Mariners prospect second baseman Dustin Ackley was named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League today, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.
Ackley, last year’s No. 2 overall pick, compiled a modest .267 batting average to go along with a .368 on-base percentage and an underwhelming .407 slugging percentage in 134 games between Double-A West Tennessee and Triple-A Tacoma this past season, but is back on track as a legit prospect after tearing up the AFL.
The 22-year-old led the league with a .424 batting average, .581 on-base percentage, .758 slugging percentage, 1.338 OPS and 28 runs scored. In addition to hitting four homers and driving in 15 runs, he also went a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.
“That’s an awesome feeling,” Ackley said of receiving the award before Saturday’s championship game. “In April, I didn’t think I could hit any more. As far as I’ve come, with hitting and defense, it’s really special. I watched Grant Desme win it last year, the MVP, and he had put up great numbers during the season and in the Fall League. It’s really special to take it in after him.”
Ackley didn’t have it easy in his first professional season, beginning the year at Double-A while also making the transition to second base. There are still questions about his power and his glove, but he has plate discipline well beyond his years, as evidenced by his 90/101 K/BB ratio during his time between the minors and the Arizona Fall League.
Ackley will enter spring training with a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told FOXSports.com that he could need some more fine tuning in the minor leagues. Perhaps he’ll change his mind somewhere around Memorial Day next year?
By the way, if you are jonesin’ for some real live baseball, the AFL title game between Ackley’s Peoria Javelinas and Bryce Harper and the Scottsdale Scorpions can be seen right now on MLB.com and MLB Network.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.