D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Ackley Out in the Nick of Time

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Dustin Ackley had some pretty big expectations attached to him as the No. 2 overall pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, but after batting .273/.348/.417 with six homers, six stolen bases and a .766 OPS in 90 games as a rookie in 2011, he has produced a miserable .221/.288/.312 batting line and a .600 OPS since. Rather than continue to let Ackley flail away against major league pitching, the Mariners sent him down to Triple-A Tacoma on Monday and promoted top prospect Nick Franklin to the majors.

Similar to the Jesus Montero demotion last week, the Mariners aren't about to throw in the towel on Ackley. Mariners manager Eric Wedge told Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune that he believes Ackley's issues are mental more than physical, so perhaps hitting against lesser competition in the Pacific Coast League will get his confidence back on track. He's still only 25 years old, so don't rule out the chance that he'll become a useful player for Seattle in the long-term. But again, like Montero, it's taking a bit longer than most originally expected.

As for Franklin, he's plenty deserving of the opportunity. The 22-year-old switch-hitter owns a .287/.360/.459 batting line over parts of five seasons in the minors and was batting .324/.440/.472 with four home runs, 20 RBI, seven stolen bases and a .912 OPS through 30 games this season in Triple-A. The Mariners plan to use him regularly at second base, even though he has plenty of experience at shortstop, as well. I'm curious to see how he'll fare against left-handed pitching, as he didn't have a great track record against them prior to this year, but he should be owned in deeper mixed formats. It's worth noting that prospect shortstop Brad Miller was promoted from Double-A to Triple-A in recent days, so he could soon be joining Franklin in the big leagues.

Read updates on various closer situations and notes for AL and NL teams in Matthew Pouliot's latest Strike Zone column. And make sure you are following Rotoworld_BB on Twitter.

Kelly Goes Kapow-ski

Kelly Johnson had to settle for a modest one-year, $2.45 million contract with the Rays over the winter after he batted just .225 with a .678 OPS with the Blue Jays last season, but he has proven to be a tremendous bargain for Tampa Bay and fantasy owners so far.

Johnson went 4-for-5 with a pair of three-run homers and a stolen base in Monday's 10-6 win over the Marlins. The 31-year-old is now hitting .355 this month and owns a .296/.358/.570 batting line to go along with 10 home runs, 32 RBI, five stolen bases and a .929 OPS through 43 games this season. Among players who are second base-eligible, only Robinson Cano (13) has more home runs while only Cano (34) and Brandon Phillips (43) have more RBI.

Johnson is a .256 career hitter in the majors, so there figures to be some skepticism about whether he'll maintain his current pace, but one encouraging trend is that his improved selectivity has resulted in a decrease in his strikeout rate and an increase in his contact rate. If he can keep it up, a return to his 2010 production is possible. However, even if there is some regression in the days ahead, he has a long history of providing value in the power and speed departments.

Grandal Rejoining Padres Tuesday

After serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone, Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal is on track to be activated for Tuesday night's game against the Mariners. It's the first day he's eligible to do so.

Acquired from the Reds in the Mat Latos deal, Grandal was mighty impressive during his rookie campaign last season, batting .297/.394/.469 with eight home runs, 36 RBI and an .863 OPS in 226 plate appearances. Nick Hundley has slowed down significantly after getting off to a hot start, hitting just .143 in 18 games this month, so it probably won't be long before Grandal gets most of the playing time behind the plate. The Padres still see him as the "catcher of the future," after all. Regardless of your opinion on what advantage Grandal gained by his testosterone usage, he should be on your radar in most mixed fantasy leagues.

National League Quick Hits: Matt Kemp went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts Monday and has fanned in 13 out of his last 21 at-bats … Ryan Braun didn't start Monday due to a nagging thumb injury, but felt well enough to pinch hit … Bryce Harper was diagnosed with bursitis in his left knee and no structural damage following an MRI on Monday … Hanley Ramirez (hamstring) has begun running the bases and could go out on a minor league rehab assignment later this week … Adrian Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with four runs scored Monday ... Jeff Samardzija spun a two-hit shutout in Monday's win over the White Sox … Ryan Howard returned to the lineup Monday, but indicated that his knee could be a lingering issue … Carlos Gomez had his second multi-homer game in the past three days on Monday … Angel Pagan (hamstring) missed his second straight game Monday … Kyle Lohse (elbow) is on track to rejoin the Brewers' rotation on Thursday … After playing hero Sunday, Ike Davis struck out in all three plate appearances Monday … Gerardo Parra left Monday's name with a left calf cramp … Cardinals prospect right-hander Michael Wacha was scratched from Monday's scheduled start with Triple-A Memphis and could be promoted to the majors this week … Dee Gordon was demoted to Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday after he hit just .175 in 19 games … Josh Beckett (groin) will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the cause of numbness in his fingers … X-rays came back negative on Ben Revere's left elbow after he banged into the center field fence Monday while making an over-the-shoulder catch … Kyuji Fujikawa returned to the disabled list Monday with a right forearm strain … Danny Espinosa (wrist) took batting practice Monday and hopes to return to the Nationals' lineup within the next couple of days … Evan Gattis went 3-for-4 with his 11th home run in Monday's loss to the Blue Jays ... Clayton Richard (illness) was tagged for five runs in six innings Monday in his return from the disabled list … Tyler Skaggs fanned a career-high nine batters over six scoreless innings Monday against the Rangers … Cliff Pennington delivered a walk-off RBI single in the second game of Monday's doubleheader against the Rangers … The Nationals will call up prospect right-hander Nate Karns to start Tuesday against the Orioles … Jose Tabata was placed on the disabled list Monday with a strained left oblique …   

American League Quick Hits: Edwin Encarnacion homered and knocked in five runs in Monday's win over the Braves and now ranks third in the American League with 43 RBI … Yu Darvish matched a career-high with 14 strikeouts and walked none Monday against the Diamondbacks, but was handed a no-decision after giving up four runs in 7 2/3 innings … David Price (triceps) played catch Monday afternoon, but isn't close to returning to game action … David Ortiz should start a game at first base when the Red Sox play in Philadelphia later this week … The Indians placed closer Chris Perez on the disabled list Monday with right shoulder soreness while Vinnie Pestano is expected to get the first crack at save chances during his absence … Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with a double and a stolen base in Monday's win over the Nationals and is now batting .336 on the season … Brett Lawrie is day-to-day with a left ankle sprain …  Clay Buchholz (collarbone) played long toss Monday afternoon and said he felt good … Josh Donaldson launched his eighth home run of the season Monday and is hitting .324 with a .950 OPS through 51 games … Jurickson Profar went 2-for-3 with an RBI single on Monday and has driven in a run in three straight games … Aaron Harang tossed a four-hit shutout in Monday's win over the Padres … Brett Myers felt some discomfort in his right elbow after his most recent rehab outing and has been sent back to Cleveland to be reevaluated … Bud Norris allowed two runs in seven innings Monday in a no-decision against the Rockies and has a 2.07 ERA in seven starts at home this season … Mike Moustakas was out of Monday's lineup due to quad soreness … Oswaldo Arcia, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester over the weekend, is scheduled to have his right shoulder examined … Sean Burnett felt more pain in his elbow Monday and will undergo X-rays on Tuesday … Ricky Romero gave up eight runs on five hits and three walks over two-thirds of an inning Monday with Triple-A Buffalo and is a long way from to returning to the majors … Tyler Flowers (back) went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout in his return to action Monday …



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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