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.
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."