Mariners' Ackley staying hot in the desert

Mariners' Ackley staying hot in the desert

It looks like Dustin Ackley has taken what he learned in the Minor League playoffs to the Arizona Fall League.

Ackley homered and drove in two runs to lead the Peoria Javelinas to a 7-4 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions on Monday.

The second overall pick by the Mariners in 2009, Ackley slugged a solo blast with two outs in the first inning. Batting again with two outs in the second, the 22-year-old second baseman singled to extend the Javelinas' lead to 5-1.

"I was just looking to get a good pitch to hit," Ackley said of the longball. "I fell behind early and then he left a curve over the plate and I stayed with it and put a good swing on it."

Ackley is enjoying a strong fall in the desert. He's batting .344 with two homers and nine RBIs, leads the league with 13 walks and is second with a .522 on-base percentage. He batted .267 with seven homers in 134 games between Double-A West Tenn and Triple-A Tacoma. Then followed that up by topping the Pacific Coast League with 10 runs scored while batting .273 with two homers en route to the Rainiers' title.

"I feel like I finished strong. I started out slow, but I had a strong finish to my season," Ackley said. "Towards the start I wasn't very happy, but I think I learned a lot. I think it was a positive season overall."

Ackley spent three years at the University of North Carolina, hitting .412 with 39 homers while seeing time at first base and in the outfield. The transition to second base is one of the things the North Carolina native is working on in the desert.

"Mostly [I'm working on] second base, turning double plays, mainly the defense aspect," Ackley said. "I'm always trying to get better as a hitter, trying to hit a ball where it's pitched."

Astros farmhand Koby Clemens smacked a two-RBI double, and Michael McDade (Blue Jays) added a run-scoring double. Brandon Barnes (Astros), who hit for the cycle Friday, hit a solo homer in the eighth, and Red Sox prospect Juan Carlos Linares raised his average to .417 with a two-hit day.

Red Sox farmhand Eammon Portice (2-1) earned the win after allowing a run on two hits and fanning three over three innings. Tom Wilhelmsen (Mariners) fanned three in a hitless frame, and fellow Mariners prospect Josh Lueke gave up a hit over the final two innings for his second save.

Nationals prospect Derek Norris doubled in a pair of runs and Charles Blackmon (Rockies) reached base four times and scored twice. Brandon Belt (Giants) had three hits, including a double, and drove in a run in the losing cause.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.