PHOENIX (AP) — When the Arizona Diamondbacks reached the 34th round of baseball’s draft, they didn’t pick for need or take a chance on potential.
Instead, they made a gesture to a player whose career was cut short.
Bypassing conventional wisdom in the draft, the Diamondbacks used the 1,020th overall pick of the draft on Arizona State’s Cory Hahn, an outfielder who was paralyzed during a game in 2011.
“It was a very emotional selection for us to make,” Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said on Saturday. “When (scouting director) Ray Montgomery and his staff came up with the idea and presented it to me, it was a no-brainer.”
Hahn was one of the nation’s top prospects in 2010, when he was California’s Mr. Baseball after leading Mater Dei High School to a state title.
He was drafted in the 26th round by San Diego that year, but likely would have gone much higher had he not announced plans to play at Arizona State.
Hahn’s college career lasted three games.
Playing against New Mexico on Feb. 20, 2011, he suffered a spinal injury after sliding head-first on a steal attempt and colliding with Lobos second baseman Kyle Stiner’s knee.
Hahn was taken off on a stretcher and had surgery later that night, but was paralyzed from the mid-chest down after fracturing his C-5 vertebrae. He’s spent the past two years helping Arizona State’s program as a student coach.
The Diamondbacks waited until the 34th round to pick Hahn because he wore No. 34 at ASU. He was eligible for this year’s draft because he’s in his third year out of high school.
“It’s not about us. It’s really about Cory and his family,” Hall said. “I was able to spend time with them right after the injury in his hospital room and he’s a wonderful kid. We want to make this permanent. We don’t want this to just be about the selection and him being a draft pick, but about him working in full-time employment with the Diamondbacks and hopefully we’ll make that come to fruition for he and his family here soon.”
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