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Scouting Mariners Draft Pick Dustin Ackley

June 28, 2009 BY ALEX EISENBERG 7 Comments

Dustin Ackley | CF | B – L | Uni. of North Carolina | Drafted by – Seattle Mariners


Dusty Ackley was widely regarded as the best college bat available in a class of weak bats in this year’s draft. The junior from North Carolina wound up playing first base this past season because of an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He’s almost assuredly going to move back to his natural position in centerfield once scouts are assured his throwing arm is back to full strength.

Body Type – Athletic with some projection…not the biggest guy in the world


A very disciplined hitter with an advanced approach at the plate…excellent pitch recognition…terrific bat control…he’ll foul off tough pitches until he gets one of his liking or he’ll find a hole in the defense — let’s say it’s down the third base line — and he’ll slap at the ball in an effort to line it down the third base line…bat control and high contact rate make him an extremely tough out…power is better than his size would indicate.


While power is better than people think, he’s not a true power hitter…more of a 15 – 20 homerun guy rather than a 25 – 30 homerun hitter…approach is not really suited for big time power. Ackley’s swing plane can also get fairly linear. While he’s solid against lefties, he doesn’t come close to matching his production against right handers.

The Swing

*Credit to MLB Advanced Media

Ackley does a good job of carrying his weight forward and moving his torso slightly in the opposite direction to create considerable torque.

He keeps his swing short — notice how the bat stays connected with the body as he strides forward — and uses a firm front leg as a base in which to turn on. His keeps his head still, making it easier for him to track the ball in from the pitcher’s hand.

The hips and hands generally turn together, but he has a habit of getting too handsy with his swing. Instead of swinging through the pitch, he’ll sometimes throw his hands at the ball, which often leads to the ball being hit on the ground.

Defense – Along with his plus speed and good instincts in the field, Ackley has the potential to be an above average defender in center field. The question comes with arm strength and accuracy. If he fully recovers from Tommy John surgery as expected, his arm should play fine in center field.

Best Case Outcome – Top-5 center fielder

More Likely Outcome – Above average center fielder

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    • john said:


      Great work on the Ackley analysis. I am a big fan of Ackley and
      I could watch him hit all day. Great work…


    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

      Thanks, john. You’re right, he’s definitely an enjoyable player to watch.

    • Marco, Italy said:

      Like ever thanks Alex! You’re a fantastic source for short and deep analysis especially for this side of the ocean and our short time to do it….Keep up it and ciao for now,

    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

      Thanks, Marco!! Definitely appreciate the kind words.

    • Larry said:

      I can’t wait to see this guy play. Looks good.

    • JamesS. said:

      Hi, I’m new to this site and I really enjoy the articles and the visual breakdowns of the players.

      One thing I don’t like is how he kinda rolls off his right foot as he completes his stride. I think it kinda limits the rotation of his hips or at least slows it down enough to rob him of a little power. I’d like to see him shorthen the stride just a little and rotate on the heel of his right foot through the swing. I think it would translate into less movement in his lower half, ie: all that bouncing and dancing his right knee is doing.

      The plane of his swing is clearly doubles hitter. Maybe he could experiment with changing the position of his hands to change the plane of the swing.

    • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

      Hi James, thanks for the kind words.

      I can definitely see the case for shortening his stride and creating a more efficient rotation of the hips would be of the reasons to do so. However, I’m having trouble picking up the bouncing and dancing in his right knee — are you referring to where the knee suddenly “stiffens” at around the time contact occurs? Because I’d argue at that point, energy is being transferred to that last thrust of the bat. It’s when the front knee stays bent that I often see the ball hit at a lower trajectory or on the ground. If you are referring to something different though, let me know.

      I agree about the swing plane…Ackley could dip his back shoulder more for more of an uppercut swing, but that would also likely reduce his contact rate as well.