PHOENIX — Cory Hahn was on a plane about to depart from the Jacksonville, Fla., airport when the Diamondbacks called to welcome him aboard as their 34th-round selection in the MLB First-Year Player Draft two weeks ago.
So yes, he did fly all the way to Houston, and he has been soaring ever since.
“You become overcome with emotions with something like this. That whole two-and-a-half-hour flight, the only thing on my mind was what happened and how much of a special moment it was to me. I could see it in my parents’ eyes, too,” Hahn said.
Hahn was at Chase Field on Friday, visiting the D-backs clubhouse and speaking to several players before watching batting practice prior to a game against the Reds. He traded Southern California stories with Ian Kennedy and spent time with Eric Hinske, among others.
Hahn was a top high school player who played on travel teams with current major leaguers Bryce Harper of Washington and Manny Machado of Baltimore. But in just Hahn’s third career game at Arizona State, he suffered a fractured C5 vertebra that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Still, he has remained upbeat and positive — even in the immediate aftermath of the injury, suffered when he was sliding into second base.
When told that he was safe on the play while being taken off the field, Hahn responded: “Damn right, I’m safe.”
The D-backs noticed that fight Friday.
“He’s in great spirits,” Hinske said. “He slid into second base and he is paralyzed. We take for granted playing baseball every day of our lives, and he can’t ever do it again. I don’t even know how to put that into words. I’ve been playing this game since I was 5. I don’t know anything else.
“For him to have the attitude he does shows what kind of a special person he really is.”
D-backs president/general manager Derrick Hall saw the same thing when he visited Hahn in a hospital shortly after his injury. Hall and general manager Kevin Towers were taken by Hahn’s baseball smarts and his can-do mindset. They saw front office potential, and Hall basically has offered Hahn the spot of his choosing in the organization — in scouting, baseball operations or on the business side — when the time is right, jokingly saying Hahn “is calling the shots.”
“I think there is going to be a nice match there,” said Hall, who said the two have had preliminary discussions.
First, Hahn said, comes his business degree. He has one year remaining at Arizona State, and after the injury, he vowed to finish school with a degree. After that, baseball is high on his list.
“Most definitely,” Hahn said.
“I’ve played this game since I was 3 or 4 years old. I fell in love with it right away. As a kid and going through high school and college, I tried to be a major league baseball player. After the injury, I did a lot of soul-searching to figure out what I wanted to do.
“I decided I wanted to get my degree and I want to stay in the game of baseball, whether it is front office, scouting or whatever. That is something I do want to be a part of, and I’m very fortunate that the Diamondbacks have presented me with this opportunity to hopefully fulfill my dream.”
Hahn, drafted in the 26th round by the Padres in 2010 before starting his career at ASU, is taken by what the D-backs did in selecting him in the 34th round.
“I understand how the draft works and how it is meant to build the organization for future years to come,” Hahn said. “The fact that even though that is the case, they decided to make this pick, is something me and my family will be forever thankful for.
“I’m excited to be here to share the moment with them and to meet everybody and thank everybody. This is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”