Dustin Ackley, the Seattle Mariners top prospect, was promoted to the major leagues following the Mariners 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday night and he figures to immediately become the everyday second baseman for Seattle going forward. Mariners fans rejoice!
To make room for Baseball America's No. 12 overall prospect, reserve infielder Luis Rodriguez was optioned to Tacoma.
Some in the scouting world have questioned how much power will develop in Ackley's bat or how well he will be able to handle the defensive duties of playing second base, but one thing is clear: he makes the Mariners a better team than they were without him right off the bat. After another two-hit night in Tacoma Wednesday—that ended prematurely when Ryan Langerhans pinch-hit for him in the ninth—Ackley had his average up to .303, his OPS up to .908 and had 29 extra base hits while drawing 55 walks in 65 games for the Rainiers. That type of offense could be a major boon to the light-hitting Mariners.
Ackley was considered by many as the safest prospect in the 2009 MLB first year player draft and even labeled as "the best college hitter in a decade" by some draft pundits prior to being taken second overall by Seattle that season. Stephen Strasburg's arm injury and Ackley's subsequent ascension to the big leagues back up that first claim.
His walk-to-strikeout ratios, ability to use the whole field and increased power production this season lend credence to the second. Some of the concerns over his defensive abilities still remain, but his bat is something that the Mariners—hanging on in the American League West race with a 35-34 record—need dearly.
Because of Ackley's immediate offensive upside and the offensive deficiencies of this Mariners team, this move was really a no-brainer for the Mariners' front office...once the service time issue was in the past. Now that we have hit the middle of June and the "Super-Two" concerns are out of the way, the top prospect is on his way to Seattle, likely for good.
And before you jump on the Mariners for manipulating the rules with Ackley, let us all remember that the service time issue isn't just a Seattle Mariners thing: just last season the San Francisco Giants waited to promote their MLB-ready top prospect—catcher Buster Posey—for the same reason...and that move turned out alright for the defending World Series champs.
By no means am I suggesting that a World Series is in the cards this season for the Mariners this year, but the bottom line is that the Mariners—off to a surprisingly competitive start in the American League West—are now a much better team with Dustin Ackley aboard.
Their competition should take note.