By Shannon Drayer
It has finally happened. Dustin Ackley started in left for the Rainiers Wednesday night. He was told Tuesday that the organization wanted to see him in the outfield and that is where he finds himself.
“I think that giving him a chance to go down there and get his feet wet in the outfield, it’ll be good for him,” general manager Jack Zdurinecik said of the move. “As you look at the different scenarios, you don’t know how it’s going to play out. I think as long as guys have experience playing other positions, it could benefit the player and the organization, and that’s the purpose of it.”
Zduriencik said the move had been discussed for some time but indicated that it wouldn’t be made at the major-league level. With Nick Franklin up, and doubling as I write this, the opportunity was there to give Ackley a look in the outfield.
Scouting director Tom McNamara, who saw quite a bit of Ackley in the outfield in college, believes that it could still be a good fit.
“He can run. You can see more of his speed when he’s playing the outfield,” McNamara said. “I still think that run tool he has can be more productive out there.”
The move somewhat displaces Stefen Romero, whose bat the Mariners like. According to Zduriencik, he will shift to right and also could see some time at first and third.
The Mariners have agreed to terms and or signed 13 of their draft picks.
• Right-handed pitchers: Emilio Pagan (10th round), Kevin McCoy (24th), Ricky Claudio (27th), Rafael Pineda (30th);
• Left-handed pitchers: Tyler Olson (seventh), Jacob Zokan (ninth);
• Infielders: DJ Peterson (first), Jack Reinheimer (fifth), Justin Seager (12th), Jeff Zimmerman (19th);
• Outfielders: Tyler O’Neill (third), Corey Simpson (sixth), Chantz Mack (30th).
A handful of draftees were at the park Wednesday taking batting practice, including No. 1 pick DJ Peterson, who sat down for an interview with me after his turn at the plate.
He talks about his first experience in the clubhouse (Kyle Seager gave him his glove and bat to use), what it was like to hit on the field at Safeco, how special it was to have his brother Dustin drafted shortly after him and much more.
These first interviews are always fun and DJ’s excitement can be heard throughout this one. Give it a listen and let me know how many times he calls me ma’am.
One last Peterson note: It was neat to see his family &ndahs; including Dustin, who was drafted in the second round &ndahs; on the field to support DJ. I asked McNamara if this was okay to have a player from another team there and he said they called the Padres and let them know. DJ will attend Dustin’s field visit in San Diego. So much for the blood feud with the natural rivals, complex sharing, Vedder Cup opponent Padres.
No. 2 pick Austin Wilson was noticeably missing Wednesday but I am told there is nothing to worry about there. Apparently he is taking his finals at Stanford this week so he was unable to come up for the homestand. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him on the road, either in Oakland or Anaheim later this week.
Last note involves another No. 1 pick, Danny Hultzen. I asked Zduriencik where he was in his recovery from his rotator strain and tendinitis. He is still in extended spring training in Arizona and threw 51 pitches Wednesday. He is scheduled to throw outings of three, four and five innings to build back up and then the plan is to send him back to Tacoma.