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2009 Draft: #5 Dustin Ackley


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Ages (in parentheses) are as of the 2009 Draft...

#1 Stephen Strasburg, RHSP, San Diego State, (20), 6-5/220

#2 Grant Green, SS, USC, (21), 6-3/180

#3 Aaron Crow, RHSP, Fort Worth Cats, (22), 6-2/200

#4 Alex White, RHSP, UNC, (20), 6-3/195

#5 Dustin Ackley, 1B/CF, UNC, (21) 6-1/185

#6 Tyler Matzek, LHSP, H.S (CA)

#7 Kyle Gibson, RHSP, Missouri

#8 Matthew Purke, LHSP, H.S. (TX)

#9 Donovan Tate, OF, H.S. (GA)

#10 Mike Minor, LHSP, Vanderbilt

This is 'Part 5' in a ten-part series, and below I'll preview #5 overall prospect, Dustin Ackley:

#5... Dustin Ackley, 1B/OF, UNC, (21), 6-1/185

UNC_DustinAckley_Large.jpg

Utley. Gwynn. Damon. These are the names most often mentioned when discussing the offensive talent that oozes from the lefty-swinging Ackley. His stance reminds one of Johnny Damon, he hits like Tony Gwynn as far as average and plate discipline, and has many projected him out to become another Chase Utley overall. Think .320+ BA, 20+ HR power, 20+ SB ability via above-average speed, and excellent defensive skills... and that gives you an idea of how highly touted of a player the NC native is. Another player that comes to mind is Nick Markakis.

The youngster has an ongoing issue that has to be considered when discussing his capabilities, and that is his right elbow/Tommy John surgery that Dr. James Andrews performed this past July. Ackley throws with his right arm, and the injury has bothered him for sometime, forcing a move to 1B to save the arm some wear and tear. Ackley is normally an outfielder, but took quite well to 1B, and may wind up sticking there. There are some who see him as a 2B'man, but most see an eventual return to the outfield. His recovery is expected to be full, but one never knows the implications... long term.

One thing is for sure, the kid can hit, and he's a gamer. Another positive is his affinity for wood bats, as he was crushing his fellow collegians in the highly regarded Cape Cod Summer League before having his surgery; to the tune of .415/.586/.707/1.293 in 12 games (41 AB's) for the Harwich Mariners. Small sample size, but the scouts all see it... he can flat out rake.

At North Carolina, Ackley stood out, even among his fellow Tar Heel mates, of which six were taken in the draft. In 2007, Ackley had a truly stellar freshman campaign, in which he hit a remarkable .402 in 296 AB's, with 10 HR's, drove in 74 runs, walked 30 times and struck out merely 21 times, all while stealing 11 bases in 13 tries. His line (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS) read .402/.448/.591/1.039... as a freshman!

This past year, the sophomore improved to hitting .417 in 278 AB's, hit 7 HR's, drove in 51 runs, walked 53 times, struck out 27, and swiped 19 of 25 bases. He committed 1 error for the season, with a .998 fielding %. Ackley's final line read .417/.503/.597/1.100. Here's hoping the young man recovers fully and gets to display his exciting skill-set once again, and sets himself up as a high first-round selection.

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Ages (in parentheses) are as of the 2009 Draft...

#1 Stephen Strasburg, RHSP, San Diego State, (20), 6-5/220

#2 Grant Green, SS, USC, (21), 6-3/180

#3 Aaron Crow, RHSP, Fort Worth Cats, (22) 6-2/200

#4 Alex White, RHSP, UNC, (20) 6-3/195

#5 *Dustin Ackley, 1B/CF, UNC, (21) 6-1/185

#6 Kyle Gibson, RHSP, Missouri

#7 *Tyler Matzek, LHSP, H.S (CA)

#8 *Matthew Purke, LHSP, H.S. (TX)

#9 Donovan Tate, OF, H.S. (GA)

#10 *Mike Minor, LHSP, Vanderbilt

This is 'Part 5' in a ten-part series, and below I'll preview #5 overall prospect, Dustin Ackley:

#5... Dustin Ackley, 1B/OF, UNC, (21), 6-1/185

UNC_DustinAckley_Large.jpg

Utley. Gwynn. Damon. These are the names most often mentioned when discussing the offensive talent that oozes from the lefty-swinging Ackley. His stance reminds one of Johnny Damon, he hits like Tony Gwynn as far as average and plate discipline, and has many projected him out to become another Chase Utley overall. Think .320+ BA, 20+ HR power, 20+ SB ability via above-average speed, and excellent defensive skills... and that gives you an idea of how highly touted of a player the NC native is. Another player that comes to mind is Nick Markakis.

The youngster has an ongoing issue that has to be considered when discussing his capabilities, and that is his right elbow/Tommy John surgery that Dr. James Andrews performed this past July. Ackley throws with his right arm, and the injury has bothered him for sometime, forcing a move to 1B to save the arm some wear and tear. Ackley is normally an outfielder, but took quite well to 1B, and may wind up sticking there. There are some who see him as a 2B'man, but most see an eventual return to the outfield. His recovery is expected to be full, but one never knows the implications... long term.

For the remainder of the report, please go here.

I'd love him as a corner outfielder, even more at second if he could hack it defensively, but he doesn't have great power at first. At this point it's a little bit of a risky pick at number 5 but he's got a lot of upside. I'll be tracking his progress.

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Greg,

As always thanks for your awesome work on these prospects.

After reading your analysis and the others from links on your site, I am much more intrigued by Ackley. Everything about him screams baseball player. I like that he is a vocal leader and fashions his game after Pete Rose (at least between the lines).

At 2B or LF, he would be awesome. At 1B, if he projects to Utley-like numbers, that is, 20 to 30 HRs, plus he could give excellent (GG-like) defense, I still like him very much, particularly given that the game in the post-roids era is shifting away from gaudy HR numbers.

Here is a list of the AL first baseman that hit 20+ HRs in 2008:

M. Cabrera 37

J. Giambi 32

A. Huff 32 (most as a DH)

C. Pena 32

K. Youkilis 29

J. Morneau 23

P. Konerko 22

K. Millar 20

So only 4 of the 14 AL teams had 1B's with 30+ HRs and only 7 had 1B with 20+. I guess my point is that 20 to 30 HR power is not shabby at 1B, and if it comes with high OBP and SLG, leadership and great defense, then I would be very pleased.

So, if Dustin Ackley is the worst we could get at #5, then it was worth the September collapse.

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I don't see him as a top 5 pick if he's at first. Further, I'm not sure Utley is really a 25-30 HR bat outside of PHI. I think he'd be a very solid 1b, but not necessarily a star. He's down around #8 for me until I see him hold up for a year in CF (which is really where he is most valuable).

Good write-up, Greg. I hope he looks good in CF, but I wouldn't necessarily want BAL taking him as a 1b.

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Greg, great write-up. He sounds a lot to me like a Buster Posey type who just loves to play ball, and will play anywhere you want him to. He also sounds a little bit like another UNC guy who went # 1 way back when BJ Surhoff who had a pretty good major league career. While I would love to see Green because its a major need at the moment, this guy will certainly be a great player in LF, CF or 2B down the road.

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Im no expert on this kid but he def. looks legit. Converting him to 2B would be a smarter move IMO. This would work because it would justify a trade if we felt like trading B-Rob and if not or he dosen't work defensively at the position we can move him back to the OF or 1B.

If he is anything like Chase Utley like mentioned by Greg, that is someone we should be fully satisfyed landing come June. Everyone gives Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins credit for starting up their great offense, but i believe Utley's versatility is the major key... just my thoughts.....:scratchchinhmm:

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I don't see him as a top 5 pick if he's at first. Further, I'm not sure Utley is really a 25-30 HR bat outside of PHI. I think he'd be a very solid 1b, but not necessarily a star. He's down around #8 for me until I see him hold up for a year in CF (which is really where he is most valuable).

Good write-up, Greg. I hope he looks good in CF, but I wouldn't necessarily want BAL taking him as a 1b.

I will take an Utley type hitter. I disagree with the thought of Utley not being a 25-30 Hr guy outside of Philly. His career numbers are not that lopsided. Over his career 71 at home and 59 on the road. Heck in 2006, he had 16 at home and 16 away.

Now back on topic. I hope the best available player when the O's are on the clock is an infielder. We have most of the OF and the C position looked down for the long term. No one has stepped up and secured any of the IF positions for the long haul.

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I will take an Utley type hitter. I disagree with the thought of Utley not being a 25-30 Hr guy outside of Philly. His career numbers are not that lopsided. Over his career 71 at home and 59 on the road. Heck in 2006, he had 16 at home and 16 away.

Now back on topic. I hope the best available player when the O's are on the clock is an infielder. We have most of the OF and the C position looked down for the long term. No one has stepped up and secured any of the IF positions for the long haul.

That % decrease from road to home over his career would drop 30 homeruns to around 23. Not that it matters. I'd take Utley production, but 1) I think that's a ceiling, not a projection and 2) I don't think a 1b with 25-30 HR ceiling is necessarily top 5 material. You're essentially eliminating any significant defensive value he might have.

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If the guy is a legit .320 hitter, then I don't really care if he hits only approx 20 hr as a first baseman. It's like saying that I wouldn't want a 2008 version of Nick Markakis at first base. Granted, Nick hit a whopping 48 doubles, but he didn't hit .320 either.

Not to be anti-Old Fan#5, but I would prefer a .320 hitter with 20 hr (who hits a fair amount of doubles) who has good speed, good baserunning skills and is a good fielder at first base rather than a .270 hitter with 40 hr who lumbers around in the field and on the base paths.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but that's how I feel.

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If the guy is a legit .320 hitter, then I don't really care if he hits only approx 20 hr as a first baseman. It's like saying that I wouldn't want a 2008 version of Nick Markakis at first base. Granted, Nick hit a whopping 48 doubles, but he didn't hit .320 either.

Not to be anti-Old Fan#5, but I would prefer a .320 hitter with 20 hr (who hits a fair amount of doubles) who has good speed, good baserunning skills and is a good fielder at first base rather than a .270 hitter with 40 hr who lumbers around in the field and on the base paths.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but that's how I feel.

Don't get me wrong. I'd love Utley-upside at 1B. I just think some of the other available players are potentially more valuable than Utley-upside at 1B. The problem is if his bat falls short at all of the comps Greg makes, now you have a 1B batting, let's say .285/.360/.500, you have a very good but not all-star 1B. As a comp, Millar's lifetime .277/.361/.457.

To summarize, my issue with a 1B in the top five or so is that you are relying on the bat and basically nothing else. The defensive-side of 1B is insignificant enough that it basically falls out of the equation when comparing it against someone who can play ML-average CF, 2B or even 3B. You're looking for elite talent (middle-of-the-order bat, front-end starter, above-average ML bat at a premium position, etc.). I'm not sure Ackley makes the cut unless he reaches his absolute ceiling.

It's worth noting Gwynn, Damon and Utley are fairly different batters, as well.

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Don't get me wrong. I'd love Utley-upside at 1B. I just think some of the other available players are potentially more valuable than Utley-upside at 1B. The problem is if his bat falls short at all of the comps Greg makes, now you have a 1B batting, let's say .285/.360/.500, you have a very good but not all-star 1B. As a comp, Millar's lifetime .277/.361/.457.

To summarize, my issue with a 1B in the top five or so is that you are relying on the bat and basically nothing else. The defensive-side of 1B is insignificant enough that it basically falls out of the equation when comparing it against someone who can play ML-average CF, 2B or even 3B. You're looking for elite talent (middle-of-the-order bat, front-end starter, above-average ML bat at a premium position, etc.). I'm not sure Ackley makes the cut unless he reaches his absolute ceiling.

It's worth noting Gwynn, Damon and Utley are fairly different batters, as well.

I was just mentioning all three, as they have been the three I've read about when comparing Ackley.

Damon for his stance mainly, Gwynn for his great contact rate and batting eye, and Utley for his power potential and similar 'potential' skill-set. Another aspect is that he compares to all three for his hustle and leadership qualities. :)

I'm almost certain that he'll move back to the outfield though, as long as he recovers completely from the TJ surgery. He profiles very well as a CF in particular.

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I was just mentioning all three, as they have been the three I've read about when comparing Ackley.

Damon for his stance mainly, Gwynn for his great contact rate and batting eye, and Utley for his power potential and similar 'potential' skill-set. Another aspect is he compares to all three for his hustle and leadership qualities. :)

I'm almost certain that he'll move back to the outfield though, as long as he recovers completely from the TJ surgery. He profiles very well as a CF in particular.

I agree with all of this. I just wanted to point it out since we were focusing on the Utley comparison.

As a CF I think he would be very valuable and a likely top 5 guy with a solid season.

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