Thursday, June 16, 2011

MARINERS: The Dustin Ackley call up and how it affects the infield

Well, it’s finally happened. The 2nd overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, second baseman Dustin Ackley, has finally been called up from AAA Tacoma to play in the big leagues. Ackley has been the most hyped Mariner prospect since Felix Hernandez, and comes in with some expectations.

“We just felt it was time," general manager Jack Zduriencik said of the move. "We thought this might be when he was ready. In discussions with the coaches down there, they all feel this is the time. He has been swinging the bat well, so there it is. He will be here Friday and we look forward to his contributions.”

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This year, at Tacoma, he was hitting .211 after 31 games, caught fire, and will come to the Mariners hitting .303 (with a .421 on-base percentage). He has also hit 9 homers, so he has some pop

The thing that makes Ackley so exciting is the mystery. Could he hit .300? Will he hit a homerun on his first at-bat? Can he save the Mariners last place offense? The list goes on and on.

But what I don’t want to happen (and I’m going to assume all Mariners fans) is for Ackley to pull a 2008 Jeff Clement. The no. 3 overall pick in the 2005 draft was absolutely tearing it up in AAA, hitting .397. But when called up to the majors, Clement folded under pressure, hit 227., demoted back to AAA, and never called up again.

So realistically, it’s not a good idea to expect Ackley to hit .300 and resurrect to Mariners offense. His peak production will come later in his career.

But with one man coming up, someone has to move over. It’s not like Jack Z called up Dustin to have him sit on the bench. At the moment, it’s Adam Kennedy starting at 2B, Brendan Ryan starting at SS, and Donkey from Shrek starting at 3B. (Wait, I better explain myself. If you’ve been reading NSS or SeattleSportsNet, you would know that Chone Figgins looks like the donkey from the movie “Shrek”. I refuse to call Figgins by his real name until he is batting above .220. He’s at .198.)

So who’s moving? Brendan Ryan certainly isn’t, as he has been one of the M’s most productive hitters. That leaves us with Kennedy and Donkey. Wedge has said and showed signs of pretty strong support of Donkey, so I don’t think he’s going anywhere (at least not right now). So it seems as though the .275 AVG, 5 HR Kennedy will be the man moving over to make room for Dustin Ackley.

"I think we are all excited for him to come up," Kennedy told Shannon Drayer. "His bat will be welcome here and I think it will give us a little boost and hopefully we all can fit in the lineup one way or another and continue playing well. That is the big thing."

The one advantage Kennedy has is he’s played first, second and DH this season and has been taking early work at third for a couple of weeks now. Adam has been more productive than main DH man Jack Cust, so expect him to get some playing time there.

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