SEATTLE -- It may still be a while before the Mariners' first-round pick in June's First-Year Player Draft suits up and sees his name in the lineup, but Seattle fans got a chance to catch their first glimpse of Dustin Ackley prior to Monday's series opener against the Angels. Ackley, the No. 2 overall pick in the Draft, was introduced at an afternoon news conference and took batting practice with the team in the final hitting group, allowing fans to get a look at the outfielder/first baseman of the future. Ackley is in town with his family for the next two days before heading to Arizona to participate in the Instructional League, and he will also play in the Fall League down there.
But first, Ackley had some unfinished business to attend to in Seattle, where he officially signed his first Major League contract and met with media and Mariners players for the first time. "I'm just really excited to get going," Ackley said. "I'm just trying to prepare myself right now to put myself in a position to move as fast as I can. How fast that is depends on the people around me and things like that. I've just got to give myself an opportunity to move as quickly as possible, and I hope it can work out." The Mariners are glad he's finally on board -- so much so, in fact, that Ackley was added to the 40-man roster upon reaching the terms of his deal. "We thought he was the best hitter in the country," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "Through the negotiations, you look at the recent years, some of the players that have signed have wanted Major League contracts, and again, I think that our thought process was that he would be there in a short period of time, and he's earned it, so we awarded him with that." Then they had to award him with a wood bat, too, because Ackley didn't have any of his own to use for batting practice. "Hopefully somebody else is going to let me borrow one," Ackley said. "We'll get you one," Zduriencik reassured him. Seattle ended up giving him and extra one that was laying around -- so no, he didn't have to ask anybody for one -- and Ackley raked a couple of nice line drives, all in front of a small gathering of fans who had moved down behind the first-base dugout for a closer look. "It was really fun," Ackley said. "I really enjoyed it. Hope I get to do it again someday." The 21-year-old from Walnut Cove, N.C., was the top hitter in University of North Carolina history, where he hit .412 in three seasons and led the Tar Heels to three consecutive trips to the College World Series. The Mariners signed Ackley to a five-year, $7.5 million contract. "His resume speaks for itself," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said before batting practice Monday. "I liked what I have seen on tape. I am looking forward to seeing in person."
Christian Caple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.