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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 13, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Mariners minor-league report, and first-hand appraisal of Dustin Ackley’s debut in LF from teammate Brad Miller

Here is today’s Mariners’ minor-league report.

The big story yesterday, of course, was the Mariners’ decision to move Dustin Ackley to left field, which I wrote about here and here.

There are a lot of layers to this decision, obviously, but before we get ahead of ourselves, I’m interested to see how Ackley takes to the outfield. It just so happened I interviewed Tacoma shortstop Brad Miller by phone from Las Vegas today for a story down the road. I thought people would be interested in his first-hand assessment of Ackley’s professional debut as an outfielder last night. Ackley played left in the Rainiers’ 12-5 win over Las Vegas.

“He actually made a pretty tough play on a topspin line drive — caught it like it was nothing,” Miller said.

Ackley, in fact, didn’t have to wait long to get tested.

“The first ball hit to him, a single, he came up and threw a bullet to home,” Miller said. “Everyone was smiling — dang! He let that one loose. We were joking, ‘That’s in the scouting report now. No one’s going to be running on him tonight.’

“He looked great out there. You couldn’t tell it was his first time.”

Miller said Ackley has “a great attitude” about the switch.

“I feel like Dustin’s a team player. He can play anywhere. He was a Top 3 Gold Glove finalist at second base, then he goes out and has a good game out there in left. He’s been raking, too. It’s all loud — even loud outs. Good at-bats. It’s been fun to watch, and it gives us all a little boost, the way he’s hitting so well. He’s been aggressive.”

In 14 games since being sent down, Ackley is hitting .417 (25-for-60) with four doubles, two homers, eight RBIs, 14 walks and just seven strikeouts, a .527 on-base percentage and .583 slugging percentage. The Mariners wanted him to be more aggressive, and it sounds like he’s complying. I’d imagine Ackley will be back up as soon as he shows he can handle the outfield, giving the Mariners a chance to pace Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez a little more, while keeping Nick Franklin in the lineup.

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