The Arizona Fall League marked the end of a long year for Dustin Ackley, who began his pro career there in 2009 and was the AFL's Most Valuable Player in 2010.
"I was new to everything last year, I wasn’t used to wood bats and I wasn’t in the outfield, I was at second base," the 22-year-old Mariners prospect said. "After a whole year, I felt a lot better."
Now, for the first time since the No. 2 pick in the '09 draft signed a deal, he's going home for a rest.
" My body is ready for a break. A few weeks off will be great, then in January I’ll get back at it and get ready for spring training," Ackley said.
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When he does get back to work, he knows there's plenty to be done.
"I need to work most on double plays, my footwork," he said. " Hitting? The fall league helped me get at-bats. After playing second base all season, I’m pretty decent at balls to my left and right. The biggest thing is the double play - throwing and turning it."
"I’ve figured out what I need to do, got a lot more comfortable with it. In the fall league, it was great time to improve on things. I’ve improved on reading pitchers, getting a jump at first base. My legs were pretty tired after the season - it was hard to feel like you wanted to steal bases.
None-the-less, he was 5-for-5 stealing.
"Facing lefties is tough - they're usually guys who come in for one inning and you haven’t seen them before. That’ll be a big thing for me, getting comfy off of lefties," he said.
What's the plan for spring training?
"I want to do the same things I did in the fall league," he said. "It helped my confidence. This really helped me feel good and get my confidence back as far as hitting, defense and base-running. It helps going in to spring training to know I really played well in fall league. My objective is to win a job. I’m always optimistic."