When the Seattle Mariners drafted Dustin Ackley out of the University of North Carolina in 2009 he was listed as an outfielder.
“I think my position will be in the outfield,” Ackley told Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times after he was drafted in 2009.”It’s just wherever the team needs me, I definitely think the outfield for me will probably be the best thing.”
However, Ackley has never played outfield at the professional level, only second base with scattered stints as a first basemen.
Ackley has not been great defensively at second basemen in his two seasons with the Mariners, only putting up two runs saved above average per year. The Mariners infield would be able to survive if Ackley were to change his defensive position.
If Ackley were to play the outfield there would be room to bring a top-prospect like Nick Franklin or Brad Miller to play second base. Franklin is ready to be called up to the major leagues at this point and would act as more of a short-term solution. While Miller could use another season in the minor leagues to gain more experience, before he takes over long-term. He may not need it, however, as he hit .334 in 137 minor league games in 2012.
Other than the 26-year-old Michael Saunders, the Mariners organization has very few young outfielders. The only outfielder listed in the Mariners Top 20 Prospects (according to MLB.com) is Julio Morban, who will not be ready for at least two years.
Casper Wells will probably not be with the club by next week and Jason Bay is an average player at best by this point in his career, so there would be room for Ackley to play left field, complementing Franklin Gutierrez in center and Saunders in right.
“I think he has the athletic skills to make it work.” Said his college coach Mike Fox on Ackley’s ability to transition between positions.
This is an idea that GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge should seriously consider. Ackley definitely has the physical ability to do it and it would give the team the option to bring up Miller or Franklin, while still being able to keep Ackley’s bat in the lineup.