Dustin Ackley's stock is on the rise, not an easy direction for a player taken with the second pick in the 2009 draft.
Still in the process of converting from outfielder/first baseman to fulltime second baseman, the Seattle Mariners prospect was named the Arizona Fall League's Most Valuable Player - and it was an easy choice
Ackley won the AFL batting title with a .424 average, led the league in on-base percentage (.581), slugging (.758), OPS (1.338) and runs scored (28), and was 5-for-5 in stolen-base attempts.
Now 22, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Ackley is moving his timetable for arrival with the Mariners up considerably. He made 13 errors in 70 games at AA West Tennesee last year, but worked one-on-one with a number of coaches and was moved to Tacoma for the final 51 ames of the Rainiers season - and made only five errors.
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Is it enough to convince the Mariners in November that Ackley's ready for the big leagues? No, but both the team and the player have moved up their expectations for spring training, 2011. Ackley may not have the job sewn up, but both he and the Mariners now know he's closer.
"Dustin has come a long way in a short time, and he may be ready to step up in spring training," said Roger Hansen, the right-hand man of Mariners minor league director Pedro Grifol. "That's the next step, and we'll see if he can make it. We have a number of young players in that postion - Greg Halman, Josh Lueke, Carlos Peguero, even Adam Moore.
"They've earned the chance, now they have to step up. Can they? We'll find out in spring training."
Ackley, Hansen said, is close - but not the closest prospect.
"There's just no question right now that Michael Pineda is the closest," Hansen said. "People are already expecting him to be the next Felix Hernandez. The issue is how long will it take him to be an impact pitcher? It's a one step up at a time process."