While we’re on the subject of top
prospects, Dustin Ackley, the No. 2 selection in the 2009 First-Year
Player Draft also made news on Friday. Mariners general manager Jack
Zduriencik said Ackley will begin working out at second base in a move that could become permanent.
Ackley, 21, played outfield and
first base with North Carolina, but was drafted as a center
fielder. Zduriencik was careful to say that this would be an
experiment, but Ackley is expected to rise in the system rather
quickly, and with Franklin Gutierrez holding down center field quite
nicely, second base could be a natural fit.
Ackley is batting .315/.412/.425
with one home run, five doubles, 12 RBI and 13 runs scored in 20 games
for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League. He is scheduled to
bat leadoff and play center field during Saturday’s AFL Championship
Game against the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
It’s important to note that Ackley is at least one year away from the majors, but in a semi-related story, the Mariners may consider moving current second baseman Jose Lopez to first base, according to a FOXSports.com.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.