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 San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will try to get Fernando Tatís Jr. locked up in a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 season.
It’d be a wise move from the team’s perspective, of course. Tatís showed in 2019 that he’s the future of the franchise, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases through 84 games while playing spectacular defense at short. He was a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award before going down to injury and still finished third despite playing just a tad over half a season.
That talent and promise means that, in all likelihood, Tatís stands to make massive money in arbitration and free agency once he gets there. If he gets there, that is. Because as we’ve seen so often in recent years, teams have been aggressive in their efforts to lock up young stars like Tatís, buying out their arbitration and at least a couple of their free agency years. These deals tend to be team-friendly, with multiple team options aimed at getting maximal value out of such players before they hit the open market. Of course, the players get much more up front money than they would in the three seasons in which teams can and do set their salaries unilaterally, usually at less than $1 million per year. It’s a standard now vs. later tradeoff, even if the value of the “now” is far less than the value of “later” and even if it pays these guys far less than they’re worth overall.
But that’s the system. And it’s one which will force Tatís to make a tough choice: either take a deal at a time when the team has most of the leverage or else turn down millions in hand now in order take a shot at many more millions later. In his case, he’ll have a rookie season with multiple injuries to think about too. Does that portend future injury issues? Could he, like some players who have been in his shoes before, end up damaged goods by the time he expected to get paid?
We’ll see how both he and the Padres calculate all of that between now and February, it seems.