Dustin Ackley’s major league career has not gotten off to a flying start since being drafted second overall in 2009 by the Seattle Mariners. After coming up as a second baseman, he moved to the outfield last season and that will be his home for the foreseeable future with Seattle’s signing of Robinson Cano this offseason. Ackley was the subject of trade rumors in December, but the Mariners don’t seem ready to give up on the 26-year old yet.
Is Ackley ready to emerge as a solid option for fantasy baseball owners this year?
Ackley’s numbers with the Mariners in 2013 were not great, with a .253 batting average, four home runs, 31 RBI over 384 at-bats (113 games). But a demotion to Triple-A Tacoma in late May appears to have done him wonders, as Ackley hit .365 in 25 games there before posting a slash-line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .285/.354/.404 from June 26 through the end of the season after being recalled.
Despite the fact he started 46 games in center field last year, new Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon has said he sees Ackley as a left fielder and that is where he will likely be on Opening Day. The exact outfield position Ackley plays is only of consequence to owners in leagues where specific outfield spots are designated, and the main positive for his fantasy value this year is that he’ll retain eligibility at second base after playing 53 games there in 2013.
Ackley is still young enough to reach the potential that made him a highly-regarded prospect, but if he remains with the Mariners and the move to the outfield sticks his long-term fantasy outlook is not great. For 2014 though, with multi-position eligibility and eligibility at a shallow position for one more year, my projection of 10 home runs, 60 RBI and 10 stolen bases with a .260 batting average gives Ackley some value as a late-round flier in deep mixed leagues.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.