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Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley named Arizona Fall League MVP

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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.

Albert Pujols passes Mark McGwire with 584th career home run

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 11: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs out a double during the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 11, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Angels 14-3. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.

Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.

Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.

Zach Britton allowed an earned run for the first time since April 30

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22:  Zach Britton #53 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches for his 38th save in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the the Washington Nationals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 22, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Oriole won 4-3.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.

The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.

Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.