Unable to play, Hahn gets chance in front office
D-backs draft former ASU star, who now relearns baseball off the field
PHOENIX -- Cory Hahn was always a cerebral baseball player. As a kid, he and his father, Dale, would chat about things they would see while watching games together.
"Is that the lineup you'd use?" Dale would ask Cory. "What does that player do well?"
At the time, Dale hoped their conversations would help his immensely talented son on the field. He had no way of knowing it was actually an early form of job training for a career off the diamond.
Two years after he was paralyzed in just his third collegiate game at Arizona State and two weeks after the D-backs selected him in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Cory Hahn visited Chase Field on Friday with his family, touring the ballpark and meeting people in the organization for which he will eventually work.
Hahn, who fractured the C5 vertebrae in his neck while sliding headfirst into second base for the Sun Devils in 2011, was offered a position in the D-backs' front office after the club ceremoniously drafted him June 8 in the 34th round, which was the number he wore in college.
"To actually be here is awesome," Hahn said. "I'm just so thankful for this opportunity."
During his day at the park, Hahn met with team coaches and players, hung out in the D-backs' clubhouse and made an appearance on MLB Network's television show Intentional Talk. One of the many highlights Friday came as Hahn watched batting practice, when fellow former ASU baseball players Willie Bloomquist and Mike Leake came over to shake his hand.
Although Hahn will head home to California on Sunday for the summer, he will return to Arizona in August to begin his senior year at ASU. While Hahn is in college, the D-backs will ease him into work, perhaps starting him in the video room before giving him full-time employment once he graduates.
From there, Hahn will be given the choice of beginning his career in areas ranging from player development to scouting to baseball operations.
"He's calling the shots," said D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall, who visited Hahn in the hospital when he first got hurt. "We want to figure out how he can slowly get acclimated to our organization, but it'll be his decision when the time comes for what he wants to do for us."
At the moment, Hahn is not sure what his choice will be; he is just grateful that he will still be able to pursue baseball as a career, even if it is not how he originally planned.
"I've played this game since I was 3 or 4 years old, and I fell in love with it right away," he said. "After the injury, I did a lot of soul searching and kind of figured out what I wanted to do. I decided I wanted to get my degree and stay in baseball. There are just so many different directions in the organization I can go, so I'm just thankful for everything."
Like he did with his father when he was younger, Hahn has spent the two years since his injury improving his knowledge of baseball despite not being able to play. The 21-year-old served as ASU's student coach the last two seasons, helping coach each home game from the dugout.
"I see it from a different perspective now," Hahn said. "I used to be just aware of what I was doing. Now, being around the game in a different aspect, I get to interact with the players and see when they're struggling what they're like, and when they're on fire what they're like.
"I've learned different sides of the game. Analyzing the game as a whole, you learn more about different positions and how to help players out by picking up tendencies."
Hall thinks those skills Hahn has picked up, along with his infectious upbeat attitude, will translate into success in his new career path.
"There's going to be a nice match there," Hall said. "He's the type of person who fits our culture: he's got a great baseball mind; he's got a wonderful personality; he's just a great fit, and it's an honor to have him here. This is someone who has such a great outlook on life, and he's such an inspiration to many."
For Hahn's family, the D-backs' offer provides something much more than just a job. They knew Cory would be successful in life even after his injury, but they did not know how or where until the Draft. Now, he has a clear future.
"When we heard what the D-backs were doing, it was just very emotional," Dale said. "I can't say enough about them; it's a class organization. What they're doing for him ... he now possibly has a good future in baseball. That's exciting, and for everything he's been through the last couple years, he deserves it."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.