The Mariners made some additions to the big league team on Thursday, signing utility infielder Tim Beckham and relief pitcher Cory Gearrin. And they also brought back Dustin Ackley.
Wait a minute. Dustin Ackley? The Mariners first round draft pick in 2009? Arguably the greatest hitter in NCAA baseball history? The guy who played for Tacoma in 2010 and 2011?
Yup, he’s back, on a minor league contract. It appears that Ackley will be suiting up for the Tacoma Rainiers in April.
Pacific Coast League fans have seen plenty of Ackley the last two years. He’s been a regular for the Salt Lake Bees, batting .261-6-59 in 2017 with a .716 OPS before posting a .286 average with four homers in 72 games last year.
Ackley has not played in the major leagues since May of 2016 when he was with the Yankees. His season ended due to major shoulder surgery, which affected his throwing well into the 2018 campaign. He was strictly a designated hitter for Salt Lake until late in the season in 2017, and last year he saw time at first base, left field, and second base.
There was much overreaction among Mariners fans on the internet (surprise, surprise!) when word of the Ackley signing got out. From my vantage point, this looks like an acquisition strictly to help out our team in Tacoma. We’ll happily take him: even when he was one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Ackley was a great representative for the team and would happily volunteer to participate in Rainiers community outreach programs. Now that he is a veteran, he should be a good clubhouse leader for the young talent that we’ll start to see this season.
Speaking of a, um, former and current Tacoma Rainier, MiLB.com has a story on our own Danny Muno, who played infield for the Rainiers in 2017 and 2018, and quietly moved to the Rainiers front office after the season. You should check it out.
More PCL coaching staffs have been announced.
Marty Pevey returns for his franchise record seventh season as the manager of the Iowa Cubs.
El Paso has a new, veteran manager in Edwin Rodriguez. Previous manager Rod Barajas was promoted to the Padres major league coaching staff.
- Here’s the Seattle Times story on the return of Dustin Ackley.
- The story on the signing of Tim Beckham and Cory Gearrin makes it sound like recently acquired shortstop J.P. Crawford will begin the season with Tacoma.
- In a Mariners Q&A, reporter Greg Johns fields questions on Dan Vogelbach and potential Rainiers outfielder Eric Filia.
- In the PCL, some minor improvements have been approved for the old ballpark in San Antonio, which will be housing a Triple-A baseball team for the first time this season.
- Our friends to the north the Everett Aqua Sox are celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, and they made a cool logo for it.
- Former Rainiers slugger Bryan LaHair is now the hitting coach for the Cincinnati Reds short-season affiliate in Billings, Montana.
- Longtime major league hitting coach Rick Down passed away at age 68. Although he was known for his success with the New York Yankees, Down made a couple of trips to Tacoma when he served as the Mariners minor league hitting coordinator during the 2011 season.