What Does Dustin Ackley Need To Do To Be Fantasy Usable?

There are some who believe Dustin Ackley is on the verge of making a Major League impact, despite never stepping foot on a professional diamond.  The second overall selection in the 2009 draft out of the University of North Carolina certainly has people talking.

At the time of the draft, mlb.com said:

“Ackley might be the best pure hitter in the college ranks, if not the entire draft class. He’s got great bat control and plus bat speed that allows him to make consistent contact to all fields. There’s some debate about how much power he’ll have, but that’s really only an issue if he can’t eventually return to his best position in center field. He’s had to play first since Tommy John surgery last summer. He profiles better in the outfield but at whatever position, those hitting skills should get him off the board early.”

Baseball America, who already has him ranked as the Mariners top prospect, said:

“Ask any scout about Ackley and he’ll focus immediately on his pure lefthanded stroke and his awe-inspiring feel for hitting. He combines all the necessary ingredients to win batting titles in the big leagues, including supreme hand-eye coordination, bat speed and a balanced, all-fields approach. He recognizes pitches and barrels up those in the strike zone. Most evaluators predict average power for Ackley, whose wiry strength is concentrated in his hands and forearms.”

There are two questions that have been pointed out, however:

  1. The position he ultimately plays
  2. The power he’ll hit for

If the average is as good as advertised, it’s just not going to matter if he hits for power or not.  As an outfielder, you’re going to look for .315 and 15 HR.  If he does that, he’s going to be a valuable edition to any fantasy roster, especially for those in five outfielder formats.

That’s a big if, however.  Coming off the Tommy John surgery, it’s still just not known if he is going to be able to throw the ball well enough to handle duties in the outfield.  If he lands at first base, where the team does have the potential for an opening, he’s going to need a huge average in order to portray a usable player.  Think .330 or better, if he’s going to hit just 12-15 HR, given the immense number of options owners have to chose from.

What about if he plays 2B, as some believe?  Well, it could be a slower path to the big leagues at this point, with Chone Figgins currently manning the position (unless Jose Lopez is eventually dealt, with Figgins again going to third).  Still, a .315 average will be more than enough to be a usable option if this is the path he takes.

So, when it comes to Ackley, the bottom line is going to be the power and if it develops, as well as the position he ultimately settles in on.  We’ll have to watch him closely early on this season and see how things progress.

What are your thoughts?  Will he develop the power?  Which position will he ultimately play?

For more looks at prospects, you can check out the following articles:

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