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Rated the No. 11 prospect in baseball by Baseball America entering the 2010 season, Dustin Ackley's talent has yet to translate into the on-the-field success many expected after his stellar career at UNC.
Drafted second overall in the 2009 draft, Ackley is a versatile defender and an athlete. A first baseman and outfielder at UNC, he played 121 games at second for Tacoma and West Tennessee. Ackley was considered arguably the best contact hitter in the 2009 draft, and brings a sweet swing and advanced plate approach to the table. Ackley showed impressive power at UNC and he is also capable of stealing bases at an impressive rate.
Despite his talent and advanced approach, Ackley has struggled since making the transition to wooden bats. In 134 games between AA and AAA in his first pro season, Ackley hit just .267 with seven home runs and 10 stolen bases.
On the plus side, Ackley did show an advanced approach at the plate, walking nearly 13 percent of the time and rarely picking up a strikeout. In fact, at two levels in 2010, Ackley walked 75 times and struck out 79 times. He was also learning a new position and he made strides at second base over the course of the season.
After a so-so first professional season, Ackley capped off his year with an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League, winning the league MVP by hitting .424/.581/.758, with four homers, five steals and 28 runs scored.
Ackley's ultimate potential will be determined by how his power develops over the next few seasons. But after finishing off his 2010 season in AAA and dominating the AFL, Ackley could compete for a job this spring. Given his advanced approach, Ackley can make a difference from Day 1.