Welcome To Seattle, Dustin
Now please sign.
For those of you wondering what to make of Ackley, the best comparison is probably early career Darin Erstad. Like with Erstad, he’s a small-ish left-handed hitter with great contact skills, plus speed, a good approach at the plate, power that’s more suited to the gaps than driving the ball over the wall, and the ability to play first base or the outfield. The bat is likely to be good rather than great, though Ackley could have a season or two similar to Erstad’s 2000 season, where his .355/.409/.541 line made him a legitimate MVP candidate.
The questions about Ackley really revolve around his defense. He has the athleticism and speed to cover center field, but Tommy John surgery has kept him at first base for most of the year, so he doesn’t have a ton of experience in the outfield. Erstad, interestingly, was one of the best defensive outfielders of his generation despite moving back and forth between 1B and CF/LF, so just because Ackley hasn’t played there doesn’t mean he won’t be able to excel. If he turns into a plus plus defender, he’s a legitimate franchise player. If the arm doesn’t come back and he ends up as just a guy with good range and a weak arm, he’ll be more of a good player than a great one.
That said, the M’s should be extremely excited to have Ackley in the system. He’s easily the organization’s number one prospect as soon as he signs, and he could be in the M’s starting line-up to begin the 2011 season. As a quality left-handed bat with the ability to offer value on offense and defense, he’s a great building block for the future. He might not have Strasburg’s upside, but there’s a pretty decent chance that he’s going to be the best player drafted today.
The M’s needed a guy like this, and while he’s not as sexy as Strasburg, we should be thrilled that the team had the opportunity to add Dustin Ackley to the organization. He’s probably going to be a USSM favorite for a long time.