Paralyzed ex-player making his mark in D-backs front office

PHOENIX (AP) Cory Hahn had his dream of playing professional baseball snatched away by a freak accident on a baseball diamond.

That forced Hahn to shift his dream to another aspect of baseball: Running a major league team.

A quick study with beyond-his-years baseball knowledge, he appears to be on the fast track toward that goal.

''I don't know if there are enough positive words to say in regards to Cory,'' Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said. ''He's going to be tremendous at this.''

A highly touted player when he first arrived at Arizona State in 2011, Hahn has aspirations of one day playing in the big leagues. His goal seemed realistic, too; the San Diego Padres drafted the center fielder in 2010 before he decided to go play for the Sun Devils.

Hahn's future took a detour in his third collegiate game, when he dove headfirst into second base on a steal attempt and slammed his head into the second baseman's knee. Hahn suffered a burst fracture of his C5 vertebrae, which compressed his spinal cord into his spinal column.

The injury left Hahn paralyzed from the chest down, ending his big league dreams.

But as Hahn began his road to recovery, he still felt like he had something to give back to the game he loved.

He returned to school to finish his degree and worked with the Sun Devils baseball team as a student coach, passing along his knowledge of the game.

In 2013, the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks used their 34th-round draft pick to select Hahn, a move team President Derrick Hall insisted was not a symbolic selection.

The Diamondbacks followed through with their promise after Hahn graduated from the W.P. Carey School of Business in 2014, offering him a job with the team right out of college.

Hahn attacked his new job with the same relentless style he had as a player, soaking in every aspect of the Diamondbacks organization.

He started off as a sort of intern, bouncing from one department to another. Hahn has since settled into the scouting department, working with player development, helping put together reports and videos on players in Arizona's system, potential free agents or players the Diamondbacks might be interested in acquiring in a trade.

Hahn played a vital role in Arizona's draft board for the amateur draft and helped select outfielder Jack Peevyhouse in the 34th round, which the Diamondbacks named the Cory Hahn 34th Pick in his honor.

''It's been an amazing experience,'' Hahn said. ''I've learned so much and experienced so many things. It's been a lot to take in, but I've enjoyed it.''

Members of Arizona's front office knew of Hahn from his accident and the team's interactions with him. What they didn't know was his drive and ability to learn things quickly.

No matter what the Diamondbacks have thrown at Hahn, he's been able to pick it up and move onto the next thing. He's also shown off his people skills, which Stewart says is a key to running an office or a team, and has put in the hours required to successfully run a baseball team.

''What's impressive about Cory is he has it in his mind where he wants to go and what he wants to do,'' Stewart said. ''He's made it very clear he wants to work in upper management and he knows the dedication that it takes to do. He's applying himself, he's sacrificing what it takes to get that place.''

Perhaps the most amazing part is that Hahn has done it as a 23-year-old who just graduated from college last year and hasn't played the game since he was a freshman at Arizona State.

''It's pretty special what he's been able to do, regardless of his circumstances,'' Diamondbacks director of scouting Deric Ladnier said. ''He really does have a tremendous knowledge of the game and an amazing work ethic.''

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