Last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Dustin Ackley, had modest numbers this season, hitting .267 with a .368 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage in 134 games.
However, his season totals were dragged down by an awful first month that saw him hit just .147 in April and as a 22-year-old in his first pro season Ackley was very young and inexperienced to be making the jump directly to Double-A (and then Triple-A).
And now he’s crushing the ball in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .429 with four homers, six doubles, 17 RBIs, 22 runs, and twice as many walks (17) as strikeouts (8) through 14 games.
Opinions are mixed on how much power Ackley will develop, but the consensus seems to be that he’s a potential .300 hitter and combined at Double-A, Triple-A, and the AFL he now has a 77/92 K/BB ratio that shows excellent plate discipline and control of the strike zone. Ackley moved to second base as a pro after playing first base and the outfield in college, so ultimately his defense may determine how quickly he arrives in Seattle.
The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.
Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.
It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.
Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.