Dustin Ackley Rumors

Quick Hits: Mariners, Slowey, Phillies

Here are some late night links as Thursday turns into Friday…


Dustin Ackley Gets The Call

Mariners top prospect Dustin Ackley will make his big league debut tomorrow against the Phillies.  The second baseman has a .303/.421/.487 line at Triple-A this year.  He was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. 

No 40-man roster move was necessary; Luis Rodriguez was optioned to open a spot on the 25-man.  It appears that Ackley will accrue a maximum of 104 days of service this year, so he's unlikely to qualify as a Super Two player after the 2013 season should the criteria remain the same.  He'll be arbitration eligible after the 2014 season and under team control through 2017.

The Ackley call-up prompts the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker to think about the possibility of trading infielder Jack Wilson.  Baker thinks the team may keep the veteran, as the current focus is the pennant race.


Rosenthal On Rodriguez, Tejada, Brewers

MLB executives tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the struggles of large market teams such as the Mets and Dodgers have helped build competitive balance in baseball this year. Here are Rosenthal’s notes from around the league:

  • Though Francisco Rodriguez has 15 saves (16 chances) and a sparkling 0.76 ERA, his fastball velocity (90.4 mph) continues to drop and two scouts say his stuff is diminished. That perception could affect the right-hander’s trade value this summer.
  • D’Backs GM Kevin Towers told Rosenthal that righty Josh Collmenter’s arm angle almost makes him look left-handed and helps create deception.
  • While Miguel Tejada has struggled this year, he’s heating up at the plate and the Giants aren’t about to quit on him, according to Rosenthal.
  • The Brewers are pleasantly surprised by Yuniesky Betancourt’s defensive work this season. If you haven’t seen these plays, you’re in for a pleasant surprise yourself.
  • Rosenthal confirms that the Mariners figure to call top prospect Dustin Ackley up before long.


AL West Notes: Ackley, Braden, Weaver

It's still a little early to be thinking about trades, but the Mariners are contemplating a big mid-season addition nonetheless. Here's the latest…

  • Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times hears that the Mariners aren't in a rush to promote Dustin Ackley, though they like what they've seen from him at the plate. Baker says the Mariners don't want to risk paying Ackley for four years of arbitration when his glove isn't ready. Despite Ackley's hitting, they don't feel he's ready defensively.
  • Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner hears that the Mariners could call on Ackley as soon as tomorrow. The hot-hitting prospect homered today and the Mariners aren't worried about the possibility that Ackley will qualify for super two status, according to Cameron. Ackley would have a good chance at qualifying for arbitration four times if he gets the call tomorrow and stays in the Majors.
  • Dallas Braden underwent successful surgery to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder, the A’s announced. The left-hander is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
  • As Tom Verducci of SI.com explains, Angels ace Jered Weaver has become a strikeout pitcher in spite of his "pipe cleaner legs" and 90 mph fastball. Weaver could double his $7.365MM salary in 2012 thanks to those strikeout numbers, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in detail earlier this month.

Heyman On Wheeler, Reyes, Martin, Reds

Now that top prospects Eric Hosmer and Jose Iglesias are in the majors, Jon Heyman of SI.com examines the minors’ top prospects. Mariners infield prospect Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick behind Stephen Strasburg two years ago, is "over-rated'' and without a clear defensive position in the opinion on one NL executive. Here’s Heyman’s latest from around the league:

  • The Giants and Mets don’t appear to be talking about Jose Reyes at the moment, but the rumors won’t stop until the calendar flips to August or another team acquires the shortstop. Heyman hears from one person who believes the Mets would “have to” send Reyes to San Francisco if they could get pitching prospect Zack Wheeler in return.
  • MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes suggested Wheeler as a possible target for the Mets last week.
  • In off-field news, Heyman reports that the Mets are getting more interest than expected from buyers interested in a minority stake in the team.
  • The Rangers hope Cuban outfield prospect Leonys Martin, who signed last week, can help them in 2011. 
  • The Reds were among the teams that bid on Martin, according to Heyman.

Update On The Timing Of Top Prospects’ Debuts

Teams like saving money and extending their control over top young players. Why wouldn't they? Having impact players on affordable contracts simplifies a GM's job. As a result, teams call top young players up strategically every season to control their service time and, in doing so, delay their free agency and/or limit their earnings.

Though service time is a consideration all season long, it's most evident at two times: in April and again midseason, around early June. If teams wait until a few weeks after the season has begun to call a prospect up for his MLB debut, the player doesn't collect a full year of service time, which delays his free agency by a year.

The precise date until which teams must wait before calling prospects up varies each year and according to whether players are on the 40-man roster. Now that we're nearly three weeks into the season, even prospects on the 40-man roster can be called up, since they have spent the requisite 20-day period in the minor leagues. 

None of the following prospects have big league service time, which means that their teams can call them up at any point and keep them through the 2017 season, if not longer: Dustin Ackley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, Manny Banuelos, Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles.

On the other hand, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton and Brandon Belt are now in the majors, picking up service time. Because those players are now on MLB rosters, they're currently on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season. However, if their respective teams option them to the minors for 20 days or more, their path to free agency could be slowed as well (that's an immediate possibility for Belt and a long-term one for the pair of impressive rookie hurlers).

That may sounds complicated, but it's the easy part. Later this spring, in late May and early June, the guessing game begins. Teams do not (and can not) know exactly when future cutoffs for super two status will be, so if they want to play it safe and ensure that prospects like Montero and Ackley only go to arbitration three times, they'll want to wait until at least the middle of June before calling them up.


Heyman On Castillo, Beltre, Belisario, Ackley

Carlos Silva looks like he has earned a release based on his spring performance, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Like Oliver Perez, Silva is set to earn $12MM in 2011. Here are the rest of Heyman’s rumors, including the latest on another candidate to be released…

  • Heyman hears that Luis Castillo has looked better than the others in competition for the Mets second base job. Castillo's performance and the lack of a standout alternative may reduce the chances that the Mets release him.
  • When Rangers GM Jon Daniels asked Adrian Beltre why two of his best seasons came in contract years, Beltre’s response was succinct: “I wish I [expletive] knew.”
  • Ronald Belisario is having trouble getting a visa, so the Dodgers aren’t counting on him this year.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in 2009, has “a shot” to make the team out of Spring Training.

Rosenthal On Athletics, Montero, Utley, Ackley

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports shared some Sunday morning notes from Spring Training. Let's check out the highlights….

  • With Adam Rosales recovering from December foot surgery, the Athletics would like to add an affordable utility infielder. Even someone like the Tigers' Ramon Santiago would be too expensive for the A's though, so they'll probably opt for an in-house option instead.
  • The Yankees figure to start the year with Jesus Montero as Russell Martin's backup in New York. One scout cautions that the team needs to ease the top prospect into an expanded role, as he adjusts to catching at the big league level.
  • The Phillies' utility infielder candidates have been playing well this spring, so they may not have to explore a contingency plan even if they expect Chase Utley to miss significant time. According to Rosenthal's sources, the Phils can't take on much salary. If the club were to pursue a player like Michael Young, the Rangers would have to take Joe Blanton and include cash in any deal, which Texas isn't inclined to do.
  • With Kyle Drabek and Jesse Litsch the favorites to earn the Blue Jays' two open rotations spots, skipper John Farrell told reporters that Jo-Jo Reyes could crack the 25-man roster as a reliever. Earlier this week, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined the possibility of Reyes being a trade candidate.
  • Teammate Chone Figgins likens Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley to "a more athletic Todd Walker," a comparison Rosenthal says is more flattering than you'd initially think.

Mariners Notes: Laffey, Kelley, Lawson, Ackley

Some links pertaining to the Mariners and their newest acquisition..

  • The newly acquired Aaron Laffey will have a shot to compete for both a rotation and bullpen job, GM Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times.  Jack Z also told Baker that Laffey has a minor league option left, meaning that he can be bumped down to Triple-A in favor of a non-roster player.
  • The M's won't have to cut or release anyone to make room for Laffey on the 40-man roster, as they have placed right-hander Shawn Kelley on the 60-day disabled list, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com (via Twitter).  Kelley is on the mend from from partial Tommy John surgery and isn't expected back until June.
  • A fun fact from MLB.com's Jordan Bastian: Following the Laffey deal, the Indians now have five players who were traded for Cliff Lee.  Infielder Matt Lawson was involved in trade that sent Lee from Seattle to Texas last July.
  • Larry Stone of The Seattle Times writes that the potential Super Two status of second baseman Dustin Ackley and pitcher Michael Pineda will likely impact when they are called-up to the bigs.

West Notes: Dodgers, Ludwick, Mariners

On this day in 1957, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley announced that his team could play as many as 10 exhibition games in California in 1958.  It ended up being a bit of a lengthier stay, as the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles following the 1957 season.  Just like O'Malley, we're looking to the west coast (or at least the western divisions) for these news items…

  • If the Dodgers aren't satisifed with their Jay Gibbons/Tony Gwynn Jr./Marcus Thames platoon in left field, ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill lists some of the left fielders that could be available in a trade.  Of the five players on Churchill's list, only Carlos Quentin would seem to be an everyday option, but if he's playing well enough to attract the Dodgers' attention, it's unlikely the White Sox would want to move him anyway.
  • Ryan Ludwick tells Dan Hayes of the North County Times that the two months that followed his trade to the Padres last season were the "worst two months of my big league career."  Ludwick hit just .211/.301/.330 in 239 plate appearances in San Diego last year and admitted he struggled with the pressure of trying to take the Padres to the postseason.
  • The Mariners are likely to keep Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda in the minors until at least June, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Both players "have areas of their games that could use further AAA development," but Baker also figures the Mariners want to avoid having either of their prospects qualify for Super Two status.
  • Angels right-hander Rich Thompson seemed to turn a corner last season, but since the Australian is out of options, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon says the Halos could lose Thompson unless he makes the team.
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has acquired six players (Henry Blanco, Geoff Blum, Russell Branyan, Sean Burroughs, Xavier Nady and Brian Sweeney) this offseason that played for the Padres when Towers was that club's general manager, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com.  "These are character guys, veterans that I knew would have a strong presence in our clubhouse," Towers said. "I knew what their intangibles are, which I thought was important….When you have history with individuals, you know what they're about as well." 
  • The Rangers have invited Yhency Brazoban to their Major League Spring Training camp, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.  Brazoban signed a minor league deal with Texas in December that didn't include an invite to the team's big league camp.