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A.J. Pollock

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Allen Lorenz Pollock IV

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A.J. Pollock was a first-round pick in the 2009 amateur draft and made his major league debut in 2012.

Pollock hit .2003 as a freshman at RHAM High School, .489 as a sophomore, .386 as a junior and .462 as a senior, when he was named the Gatorade high school Player of the Year for Connecticut.

A.J. hit .372/.464/.474 in 2007 to become the fourth freshman ever to lead Notre Dame in average. He was 4th in the Big East Conference in average. He made the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American team. Pollock hit .348/.419/.481 for the Vermont Mountaineers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, leading the league with 15 doubles and finishing second in slugging. As a sophomore, Pollock batted .352/.414/.505 with 28 steals in 31 tries. He made first-team All-Big East, finishing 4th in the conference in swipes. He was the 12th-hardest batter in NCAA Division I to strike out (one K per 21.7 AB). Pollock hit .377/.455/.556 in the 2008 Cape Cod League, playing for the Falmouth Commodores. He was second in average behind Jimmy Cesario, led the league in hits (61), led in doubles (15), led in slugging (.009 over Grant Green) and was third in OBP. He was named the circuit's MVP. Baseball America named him the #7 prospect in the Cape Cod League. As a junior, A.J. hit .365/.443/.610 and made All-Big East once again. He made no errors in 159 chances that season. His 21 steals (in 25 tries) were second in the Big East. He became the second player ever to lead Notre Dame in average three years in a row.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and scout Mike Daughtry signed Pollock as the 17th pick of the 2009 amateur draft; the choice was compensation for the loss of Orlando Hudson to free agency. Pollock matched the highest selection ever by a player from Notre Dame - Ken Plesha (1965) and Brad Lidge (1998) had also gone at #17.

Pollock made his pro debut on June 30 with the South Bend Silver Hawks, going 0 for 4, but he had 6 hits in his next 16 at-bats. For the year, he hit .271/.319/.376 in 63 games in the minors, while fielding .994 in center field. Baseball America rated him as the #13 prospect in the Midwest League, between Eric Hosmer and Wily Peralta. Injury struck in 2010, though, as he missed all season following surgery on a fractured growth plate in his elbow. He returned to action in the Arizona Fall League and hit .389.

Back in action in 2011, Pollock did not show any signs of rust. He batted .307/.357/.444 for the Mobile Bay Bears, with 41 doubles, 103 runs and 36 steals (in 43 tries). In the outfield, he fielded .996 while playing primarily center. He led the Southern League in runs (13 ahead of runner-up Alfredo Silverio), was third in doubles (behind Scott Van Slyke and Silverio), was third in sacrifice flies (9), was third in steals (trailing Quintin Berry and Kevin Mattison), ranked 4th in average (behind Van Slyke, Tyler Kuhn and Rebel Ridling), tied Paul Goldschmidt for 4th in extra-base hits and ranked 4th with 244 total bases (trailing Silverio, Van Slyke and Ernesto Mejia). He led not only the SL, but all of AA baseball in outfield fielding percentage. Among Diamondbacks farmhands, he led in doubles, runs and stolen bases while tying David Nick for the most hits. Baseball America rated him as the best hitter for average, best defensive outfielder and best outfield prospect (#6 overall prospect) in the Arizona chain. They also rated him as the best defensive outfielder in the Southern League and its 14th-best prospect overall, between Nathan Eovaldi and Vinnie Catricala.

Pollock played for Team USA in the fall of 2011. In the 2011 Baseball World Cup, he started in left field for the US (Jordan Danks was in center) and hit .257/.350/.457 with 2 steals (in 2 tries), 2 assists and no errors. The USA made it to the Bronze Medal game against Team Canada and the two teams wound up sharing the Bronze when the rain in Panama proved too heavy to play that game. In the 2011 Pan American Games, he was 6 for 20 (all singles) with 3 walks, 5 runs and a RBI in five games. In the 2-1 loss to Canada in the Gold Medal game, he got the only US run, singling off Andrew Albers in the first, advancing on a passed ball by Cole Armstrong and scoring on a Brett Carroll double. For the day, he went 2 for 4 with a run, the only US player with multiple hits that contest.

Starting 2012 with the Reno Aces, he hit .340/.386/.453 with 6 doubles and 4 steals in 12 games. He was then called up to The Show when Geoff Blum went on the disabled list. In his major league debut on April 18th, A.J. hit 7th and played center field in a 2-1 loss against the Pirates. He was retired by James McDonald his first two trips up. His third time to the plate, he drew a walk from Brad Lincoln but was gunned down running by Michael McKenry. His last time up that day, he grounded out against Juan Cruz. Back with Reno, Pollock was named most valuable player of the 2012 Triple-A Baseball National Championship as the Aces beat the Pawtucket Red Sox 10-3 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC on September 18th. He went 2-for-5 with a triple, double, two runs scored and an RBI. Overall, he hit .318/.369/.411 in 106 games for Reno and .247 in 31 big league games.

Pollock spent all of 2013 with the Diamondbacks, as the team's starting center fielder. Adam Eaton, his teammate at reno the previous year, had been penciled in to be the starter in spring training, but he lost a good part of the season to injuries, giving A.J. his opportunity. He hit .269 with 28 doubles, 5 triples and 8 homers, scored 64 runs and drove in 38, and was successful in 12 of 15 stolen base attempts. Eaton was traded after the season and A.J. was now the undisputed starter in centerfield in the first two months of the season. He was leading the team with a .316 batting average after 52 games on May 31st when he was hit on the hand by Johnny Cueto of the Cincinnati Reds, breaking a bone and putting him on the disabled list. Ironically, he was named the National League's Player of the Week a day later on the strength of a .522 batting average before sustaining the injury.

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