Dustin Ackley made sure his first swing as a Mariner was memorable, taking a four-seamer from Brandon Sisk (Royals) into left field for a base hit in his unofficial pro debut with the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League.
"It was great for me to get my first at-bat," Ackley said at the time. "I just wanted to make contact, and [I] stayed with what I've done in the past."
Eight games later, the highly touted prospect added another check to his pro resume, driving in his first RBI in a Mariners uniform in the Javelinas' 12-5 rout of the Surprise Rafters on Saturday night. The 21- year-old Ackley put on a show in front of a crowd of 831 at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz., doubling twice and driving in three runs.
And the more Ackley draws on past successes, the brighter the future looks for the Mariners.
"He's not going to be that far away, but you don't want to put labels and time frames on kids," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said after the club selected Ackley with the second overall pick in this year's Draft. "We think it will be a short period of time before he's a big leaguer."
And with performances like Saturday's, Ackley offered the quaint crowd an up close and personal look at one of baseball's most promising young talents. After grounding out in his first at-bat, Ackley doubled in two runs in the second inning and added another RBI double two frames later. Dodgers prospect Russ Mitchell followed with another two-base hit to score Ackley. Mitchell's night at the plate was even more impressive than Ackley's, as the power-hitting designated hitter launched a three-run homer in the sixth inning and went 3-for-5 with five RBIs.
Mitchell raised his average to .365 while Ackley is batting .313 for the first-place Javelinas (11-6).
A standout at the University of North Carolina, Ackley led the Tar Heels to their fourth straight College World Series this season, batting .412 with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs. He holds school records for most hits (338), most runs scored (225) and total bases (535).
But despite all his accolades and titles, Ackley said his first taste of the AFL has been a welcome one, if only because he's playing some meaningful baseball again. Since signing with Seattle in mid-August, Ackley's only baseball time had consisted of work in instructional leagues and extended spring training venues.
Fellow Mariners prospect Joe Dunigan added a two-run homer and went 2-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs, while Justin Cassel (White Sox) gave up a run over two innings to pick up his second victory.
Mets prospect Ike Davis homered for Surprise, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored in the loss.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.