The Seattle Mariners released former first-round draft pick Dustin Ackley, whom they had most recently signed to a minor league deal. Taken second in the 2009 draft, Ackley was a highly touted hitting prospect out of the University of North Carolina and at the time thought a no-brainer selection.
The 2009 draft class was relatively weak, in retrospect, with two notable exceptions. The Washington Nationals took Stephen Strasburg with the number one pick and, therefore, wouldn’t have been available to the Mariners.
But, at number 25, after 15 other teams had passed either once or twice, the Los Angeles Angels took with their SECOND pick, a high schooler out of New Jersey named Mike Trout.
So, the blunder of drafting Ackley can’t entirely be “blamed” on then-Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. But the Mariners still like to blame Jack Z whenever they can.
In his rookie season, Ackley hit .273/.348/.417 with 6 HR, 16 doubles, 7 triples, and 6 SB over 90 games and 376 PA. He looked well on his way to fulfilling his high draft position, but then his second year would prove more indicative of his overall potential in the big leagues.
In the 2012 season, Ackley played 153 games for a Mariners team that would win just 75. He hit .226/.294/.328 with 12 HR and 13 SB for a 75 wRC+.
Throwing out the 2011 rookie campaign, Ackley’s slash line since has been .235/.296/.358.
Last year in the minors for the Angels, Ackley hit .286/.378/.398.
It’s not inconceivable that the 31-year-old old could find his way back to the majors. After all, the New York Yankees kicked the tires to the tune of 70 PA in 28 games as recently as 2016. But given the Mariners’ push to get younger and more athletic, the signing seemed more sentimental than practical.
Kind of like Ichiro Suzuki, but with a much less talented player at his peak.