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Old friends Ahmed, La Stella meet on big league field

Old friends Ahmed, La Stella meet on big league field

ATLANTA -- When the D-backs selected shortstop Nick Ahmed from Triple-A Reno on June 29, he texted Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella to share the news. Once La Stella heard, he reacted enthusiastically.

Ahmed had played the role of cheerleader when Atlanta recalled La Stella from Triple-A Gwinnett a month earlier. Three years after the Braves took both players in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Ahmed and La Stella are Major Leaguers.

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"We're good buddies. We stay in touch. We talk hitting a lot," Ahmed said. "He was all excited for me, the same way I was for him when he got his callup."

They first made contact when the duo played together for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod League in 2010 and crossed paths again during the 2011 NCAA tournament when La Stella's Coastal Carolina played Ahmed's UConn at the Clemson Regional.

They went their separate ways in 2011 when Ahmed went to Danville and La Stella played in Rome before suiting up again as teammates for Class A Advanced Lynchburg in 2012 before the Braves sent Ahmed to Arizona as part of the seven-player blockbuster trade that brought Justin Upton to Atlanta in January 2013.

Only six days removed from his Major League debut, Ahmed will finally share the diamond with La Stella again this weekend at Turner Field.

"Living together and obviously staying in touch over the years, we've talked about this moment for a long time, playing against each other at the highest level," La Stella said. "It's pretty cool it's finally happening."

One dream will be realized when La Stella and Ahmed go toe to toe this weekend, but another will be achieved for Ahmed when he steps out of the dugout for the first time on Friday night at Turner Field.

"It's going to be fun," Ahmed said. "When you get drafted, you always dream of playing for that organization in the big leagues. I always dreamed of playing here."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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