Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Arizona Fall League Scouting Report: Dustin Ackley
From: North Carolina (2nd overall pick in 2009 draft)
Ackley (selected immediately following Stephen Strasburg in the 2009 draft, was expected to fly to the major leagues. He was a very polished hitter coming out of college and everyone figured he’d enjoy a cup of coffee in the big leagues at some point late in the year, especially if the Mariners were in position to contend. Hell, he started his career all the way up at AA. This is all pretty impressive considering that Ackley wasn’t even drafted out of high school.
Instead of tearing through the minors, Ackley had a really rough first couple months. It took time for him to adjust to subtle environmental changes, like using wooden bats. Combined with that, Ackley was learning a new position, second base, instead of playing first base or in the outfield.
Later in the year he started to heat up and by the time the Arizona Fall League came around, he was downright on fire. He was named MVP of the AFL. I figure he’ll be in the majors at some point next season.
Ackley great excellent pitch recognition and handles the strike zone well, walking almost as much as he strikes out. He swing is flawless, he has good hand-eye coordination, takes a short path to the hitting zone, and has fine bat speed. When I saw him, he was hitting the ball HARD, and all over the field. Stuff I read on Ackley as he struggled this year seemed to indicate that he was slapping at the ball Luis Castillo style. That’s not what I saw at all.
As far as hitting for power goes, only time will tell if Ackley will be a serious threat. Hitting for power and getting carry on the ball is about strength and being able to get backspin on it, and Ackley's showed it during batting practice sessions. Now it's just about carrying that forward into games a little more, although he is probably never going to be more than a teens homer hitter.
He had trouble this year against lefties, but it was only a 150 atbat sample size so don’t treat it as gospel.
I haven’t even gotten to Ackley’s most impressive tool, his speed. I timed him at 4.07 from home to first base, a 70 runner on the 20-to-80 scouting scale in terms of raw speed. That is way fast. As he learns to steal bases, he’ll become one of the most dangerous leadoff hitters in the game, because he’ll be on base a ton to use that speed.
Still a work in progress at second base, Ackley obviously has the tools to one day have fabulous range but his footwork is currently poor. His arm is below average, so he’s not an ideal fit in center field. He played a lot of first base in college due to an injury to his throwing arm, but a leadoff hitting, 30 steal threat is atypical for 1b. I have questions about his hands, as well. I'd like to tell you he'll get nice and cozy at 2B but he really looks stiff right now. I think he eventually ends up in LF, and while that eats a sizable chunk out of his value a LF that hits .325 with a .410 OBP is still a good player.
Future MLB Comparison: None, this guy is a different breed.
A look at the swing