The only thing that could potentially keep the Seattle Mariners from drafting Dustin Ackley pre-draft was ability/inability to play center field. Most thought his second position would be second base if for whatever reason he couldn't play the outfield.
Now it's looking like his arm is healthy enough to get him a starting gig in center. However the more and more I think about it, now that he's with the Mariners, should he?
Currently manning the position is Death to Flying Things himself. Franklin Gutierrez is 26-years-old and on the verge of becoming a perennial five-tool player at the premium position of center field.
His bat is coming around as of late and he really should be stealing more bases than he is. His glove is, of course, incredible.
It would be absolutely foolish to move him to right or left. While his bat is good, it will most likely be sub-par at the corner outfield positions, not to mention his range can't be on display as much.
Ackley is blocked in left by Michael Saunders. Saunders is currently in AAA with a line of .312/.381/.541 (average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage). More importantly, there are multiple reports of the ball "jumping off his bat" and him making really solid contact almost every time. That kind of thing translates well to big league success.
Ackley probably can't play right because he really doesn't have the arm. Even before surgery he didn't have a great arm. His projected power numbers also are below average for right field.
This is why I think Ackley is destined for second. I have no idea what his defense is at the position, but it can't be much worse than Jose Lopez, who isn't terrible. Ackley will be hitting .330 with 15-20 home runs in a couple years or less, which is all-star caliber numbers for a second baseman.
By the time Lopez's contract is up (2011, 2012 if the M's pick up the option) Ackley should be in the bags. If he's early, Lopez can be traded for a need. If Ackley is a little behind schedule, then Lopez can re-sign or Zduriencik can return to the caves of his home in Pittsburgh and transform a league average player into a superstar.
Ackley can bat in the two-hole until Ichiro retires. When that happens, Ackley will move to leadoff.
I don't have much more to say so I'll say this.
With this farm system fielding a plethora of quality outfielders, and Ackley blocked in center, why not move him to the middle infield where it doesn't appear we'll have much talent in the future?
It's a move that makes sense to me, but let me know what you think.