I believe that he has very little chance of being moved to the bullpen, and for that alone, I am ready to kiss Capt. Jack on the forehead. A #2 draft pick who will make an impact. Vot next?
Capt Jack has, apparently, already ruled him out of the middle infield, despite his college coach's judgment that Ackley would be a "great" second baseman. There are huge advantages, and huge disadvantages, to this.
The huge-st disadvantage is that in Seattle, CF and RF are nailed down for five years, at least in the M's view. And now you're going to use your one "Chance" slot on the Yahtzee card. Where do all the other bat-first prospects go? Greg Halman is listed as the Mariners' #1 prospect by Baseball America. Does Ackley come at the cost of subtracting your current #1?
I potentially solve that by getting rid of Franklin Gutierrez, down the line. If Ackley can play CF decently, and if Gutierrez turns out to be nothing special, as I expect.
Anyway. There's a huge advantage, too. It is a Bill James axiom that good organizations put "tweeners" at the position in which they are most likely to succeed. You get better defense, and you get a player who has the time to concentrate on overcoming adversity.
According to Larry Stone, Ackley is being compared to George Brett and Wade Boggs. If Ackley turns out to be a left-handed Edgar Martinez, even minus an OPS+ or twenty .... and if he provides impact outfield defense ... then he will be a big part of the next M's pennantwinner. YOWZA.
If Ackley turns out to be Darin Erstad, and runs a 93 career OPS+, the pick will be a catastrophe, whether or not he plays pretty defense. (Of all the Angels I ever heard Inside Pitch rag on, Erstad probably drove him the most insane: "I just can't stand to watch him any more" he told me about year six of Erstad's career.)
If Ackley turns out to be Jeremy Reed, likewise a train wreck with the pick. You say that you've seen other line-drive lefties, with graceful swings and good strike zone control, fizzle out like Erstad and Reed did? Of course you have. All of these non-pro hitters can *very easily* turn out to be pedestrian major leaguers. That's what mediocre major leaguers used to be: hotshots at some lower level.
But relax. The failure rate on top-5 picks is nowhere near as scary as it is for players lower down. Every scout who's ever been quoted says that Ackley simply WILL hit well in the majors. Granted, Erstad came with similar assurances. But Erstad is, more-or-less, the worst case for Ackley. Most scouts talk names like Chase Utley's when talking Ackley.
We'll see where Ackley winds up.
=== TIMETABLE Dept. ===
Right now the going rate for college mega-draftees is to spend one year, and change, in the minors.
EVAN LONGORIA -- spent remainder of his 2006 draft season, and 2007, in minors. Immeidately slugged .531 in the majors after that one full year in the minors. The next year (this year) he hit another gear on the Autobahn, and started knocking Citroens off the road into the ditch.
TROY TULOWITZKI -- spent a bit of 2005, and most of 2006, in the bushes. Got a cup of coffee in 2006. Hit .290/.360/.480 in the majors the next year. Same timetable as Longoria.
JUSTIN UPTON -- spent '06 and change ('05) in the minors. Spent a partial year-two ('07) in the majors, struggling. In his third full year out of the draft, had a 107 OPS+; this year is hitting like Manny Ramirez, 320/400/600.
Upton was a year later than the above two, but of course, he was a HS pick. In absolute terms, he's arriving even earlier.
ALEX GORDON -- spent '06 and change in the minors. Was mediocre in the majors as a rookie, after that one minor-league season. Was good his second year. Has started slowly this year. Thus far has been a bit of a slow arrival; he was compared loosely to a LH ARod when he came out.
RYAN ZIMMERMAN -- got a cup of coffee the same year he was drafted. Had 110 RBI in the majors the next season. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/z/zimmery01.shtml
RYAN BRAUN, MILWAUKEE BREWERS :- ) -- spent the typical year-and-change in the minors. Drafted in summer 2005, was given a fulltime ML job in 2007. Ran an OPS of 1,000. Hasn't stopped slugging since.
JEFF CLEMENT -- drafted by the Mariners and immediately buried for two years to work on defense that, apparently, will never be very relevant. Because of the over-focus on defense, he will be the slowest among the 2005-06 college mega-stars to impact.
Exec summary: MID-line would be for Ackley to spend next year in the minors, and then perform as an impact player the year after. But he could take longer, as Clement, or could arrive NEXT spring, as Zimmerman did.