With Jack Wilson hitting .250/.282/.288 on the season, it’s almost time.
Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft and the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect, has rebounded from a poor April to hit .359/.475/.594 with three homers 13 RBI and a 7/15 K/BB ratio in 64 at-bats this month for Triple-A Tacoma.
The Mariners actually have gotten decent production from second base overall, but that’s mostly Adam Kennedy and he can play first and third as well. The Mariners have been holding out hope that Wilson would play well enough to bring back a prospect before the deadline, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. By the time June 1 rules around, releasing him and moving on to Ackley is going to be the obvious move, particularly since waiting that long should guarantee that Ackley won’t be a super-two arbitration eligible after 2013.
Ackley isn’t likely to be a star right away. It took him time to adjust to Triple-A, and the jump to the majors will be even more difficult. Plus, there are still questions about whether the former first baseman and center fielder will last at second defensively.
The 23-year-old Ackley is ready for his first opportunity, though. He possesses 15-homer power, and with his on-base skills, he could be the solution in the two hole the Mariners thought they were getting when they signed Chone Figgins. The Seattle lineup is badly in need of a boost, and while Franklin Gutierrez’s return should help some, Ackley is their best hope of providing it.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.
The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.
The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.
The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”
Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.