...it seems almost a foregone conclusion now that the Mariners will draft Ackley. I was big on Green last year and pretty uninterested in any of the pitchers...but Ackley is obviously finishing his college career much better than Green is...and if it's true that Ackley can hack it at second and be average with the leather there...that makes him a prime-Jose-Vidro level MVP candidate.
=== PTI, Ackley at 2B ===
I love the optimistic angle as much as the next guy but...if the only examples that one can find where this type of move has worked are HOF-level guys, then I'm not sure how applicable it is.
Mariner Central posters reply, in the main, that you're not losing much even if Ackley cannot play the infield. If he can play 2B, you're max'ing out his value; even if not, he's still the #2, goes the volley.
True dat. But in Grizzle's defense, my argument was that you are PROBABLY looking at an infielder when you draft Ackley. So lay down your clipboards and forget about the #3-8 candidates in the draft.
Grizzle just doesn't agree. He thinks you project Ackley as an outfielder, with conversations about the infield "interesting but not that relevant."
Grizzle's visceral reaction to Ackley's position switch is that you're talking about extra-gifted talents when you're talking about the Roses and Biggios who made it work out WELL.
Note, in passing, that our Rose & Biggio examples weren't "proofs" that Dustin Ackley or any other college player can be put in the infield. They're illustrative only.
A picture's worth 1,000 words, and the Paul Molitors of the world paint us some pretty pictures. But the Willie Bloomquists and Mark McLemores of the world move around the diamond too. How many clubs don't have an IF/OF utility guy on their benches? Baseball's baseball. Grab a glove. ;- )
Dr. D? Microphone? My own visceral reaction -- that is, my gut reaction, my judgment as to what is important here and what is not -- is this:
1) For very young players, position switches aren't as big a deal as we think they are. Half the guys the Mariners draft move all over the place.
2) Ackley's college coach watches him practice every day.
His coach watches him move, knows him as a person, has a FEEL for his break on the ball on a grounder at first base, etc etc. And his UNC coach is NOT concluding that Ackley can PLAY second base; his coach judges that Ackley can be a SPECIAL defender at SECOND base.
It's kind of like John Thompson warning the NBA that Patrick Ewing was not a defense-only center before they drafted him. Thompson watched the guy practice.
Capt Jack and Dr. D seem to be tuned in on the same frequency here: if Ackley's coach is that impressed with him, then wow.
=== At the Plate, Dept. ===
As you know, Dr. D is huge on Ackley's lefthandedness. As a wannabe baseball historian, I don't think you can emphasize LH/RH too much in Safeco Field. Again, it was James who pointed out that a scan from 1921 (?) to 1964 shows the value of LH power in a park like Yankee or Safeco.
Two words: Russell Branyan. What if we had three or four? Instead, we've got seven RH free swingers who never strike out, never walk and never hit homers. :- )
In other words, LH is more than a thumb-on-the-scale for me. I take WORSE players if they hit lefthanded -- I take Branyan over Jay Buhner in Safeco. If Dr. D were GM, you'd consider him LH-obsessive and you would be complaining about it all the time. My backup catcher would be whichever lefty bat happened to be kicking around the fringes of the league.
And Ackley ain't a worse player.
Also, it's hard to find LH middle infielders, since they obviously have to have strong right arms. Ackley's the prospect of a whole extra lefty in my lineup.
Dr. D is also huge on Ackley's eye ratio: it is 2:1 the WRONG way for pitchers. This is the kind of walk ratio that might conceivably translate to a 1:1 type ratio in the bigs -- and with Ackley's CT%, it suggests a .400'ish OBP.
People wouldn't be so high on Ackley if he projected to hit 4 homers a year. This is a guy who breaks metal bats on home runs. ;- ) Scouts visualize him, going forward, as comparable to Chase Utley, who hits 32 homers per season, not 4 homers per sason.
Ackley's "modest" projection is something along the lines of .300/.370/.420, which is to say Dustin Pedroia in a neutral park. His "upside" is the legit .300/.400/.500 player, and if at second base that is an MVP candidate. Passing on him could be an Evan Longoria type pass, the kind where you're kicking yourself the rest of your life for not taking him.
I haven't seen Ackley play, but his player template is very exciting. He would be my favorite Mariner draft pick at least since Cruz Jr.
I'm bigger on Ackley than I was on Tulo or Alex Gordon - and I was BIG on Alex Gordon. Funnily enough both guys have run into injury issues.
But then maybe I'm just tired to death of hitters with no patience, no strike-zone control, no desire to put pressure on a pitcher, no idea of an approach at the plate...
Ackley will be a 40 doubles a year guy in the pros on a regular basis. What's his potential HR power like? Hard to say. He doesn't try to hit them. All of the HRs he hits are balls that would have been HRs or doubles off the wall in the pros or in college. He just crushes the ball where that ball is meant to go and doesn't try to swing for the fences with rainbow flies that in the pros are lazy outs. But after his arm recovery his HR power doubled - I take that as a very good sign.
He's John Olerud with wheels. Being patient and waiting for his pitch is not a problem for him. Nothing's a problem for him. He should have been drafted as a teen and be killing it in the bigs already.
He's trapped in college and bored at the plate, but it doesn't affect his output or his concentration. Blew out his elbow? No problem coach, I can hit .400 with a recovering arm, just move me to 1B so I don't have to throw this year. Next year when I can throw again, put me wherever you want.
And he's skinny, a rail. Get Edgar in here to show him the way around the weight room, let him flesh out a little, and those doubles will clear the wall in the bigs just fine.
If he really can play 2nd - and at this point I don't think there's anything he CAN'T do...Think of asking Cal Ripken to play CF or 1B or MIF and you'd be pretty sure he can do all of that without an issue. Ackley's that way. "Just tell me what to do, Coach, and I'll go be great at it."
He's never gonna be a 40 HR masher. Or 30, probably. For a #2 pick you'd probably like one if he's your 1B. But Ackley was a 1B due to injury and necessity of playing the players on the NC roster. He can play all the OF positions and probably several of the IF ones too. I'd take 40 2b and 20 HRs every year from my .300/.400/.500 hitter and call it a good draft pick no matter the position. Wouldn't you?
I wanted to see power after his arm healed. He showed it. That was my only question. Sign the kid up and figure out where he's gonna play for you. As as middle IF he'd be a ridiculous bargain, but even in the OF or at 1B...the bat should play anywhere. You'd like to keep the corners available for bigger HR threats...but how long did Ole play a major role at 1B with adequate-but-not-great HR power?
And Ackley can run the bases too. Bring him on, at whatever position.