Dustin Ackley is the Seattle Mariners’ second baseman of the future, but he doesn’t need to look far if he wants to see who might step in if he falters.
Kyle Seager – Ackley’s teammate for three years at the University of North Carolina – also was drafted by the Mariners in 2009.
Ackley was the second player chosen in the entire draft, and Seager was picked in the third round, 82nd overall. But Seager – who is also a second baseman – can claim something that Ackley cannot: a 32-game hitting streak, and a .342 batting average in his first full professional season.
Now keep in mind that Ackley is playing for Triple-A Tacoma, while Seager has been playing for Advanced Single-A High Desert. There is no question that Ackley is more advanced right now.
But Seager is having a great season, and he deserves some notice.
“He’s a scrappy, hard-working gamer,” said Mariners minor league hitting coordinator Phil Plantier. “He doesn’t throw any at-bats away – he does a great job, as a first-year player, of going up and having professional at-bats every day.”
Seager had a 32-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday. During the streak he hit at a .428 clip, with five home runs and 26 runs batted in.
Plantier was not surprised that Seager was able to run off such a long streak.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all because he’s a grinder,” Plantier said. “He doesn’t throw at-bats away – he competes every pitch, from the first pitch of the day to the last pitch of the night.”
Entering Saturday’s game, Seager was batting .342 with nine home runs and 49 RBI with a .415 on-base percentage. A left-handed batter, Seager is hitting a robust .368 against left-handed pitchers.
Defensively, Plantier said that Seager doesn’t have spectacular range, but he is excellent at turning the double play.
HIGH DESERT MANAGER LEAVING FOR TEXAS TECH
Manager changes in the middle of the minor league season are rare, but the Mariners were forced into one at High Desert.
Third-year skipper Jim Horner – a former Tacoma Rainiers catcher, and Washington State Cougars player – has resigned.
Horner is leaving the organization to become an assistant coach at Texas Tech University, where he will work under head coach Dan Spencer.
Spencer, who played at Oregon State, was once an assistant coach at Tacoma Community College and served as head coach at Green River CC before eventually landing at Texas Tech.
Horner told the Victorville (Calif.) Daily Press that he was making the change for family reasons. “I have four kids that are all under the age of 12, so I’m getting to the point in time when I just can’t take them out of school,” he told the paper. “They don’t get to do a lot of things that other kids get to do.”
Mariners minor league infield instructor Darrin Garner will manage the team for the remainder of the season.