Good news, Mariners fans! After a dismal first month, Ackley finally got the stroke going in May and June. Sure, he hit for some power, and his BB skills were there even through his slump, but up until now his OBP has been noticeably higher than his SLG. As of June 30, Ackley is now posting a .393 OBP to go along with a .391 SLG. So Ackley is finally getting close to getting over the hump of having a higher SLG than OBP, with a triple-slash of .258/.393/.391!
The thing is, after a god-awfule .147/.289/.227 April, Ackley actually continued to have a higher OBP than SLG in his torird May, in which he put up a gaudy .303/.475/.447, which included 6 doubles, a triple, and his first professional home run. In June, he’s finally showing the isolated power a little more, putting up a .309/.404/.474 line, including a mark of .289/.400/.500 in his last ten games.
What’s amazing to me though is Ackley actually showed decent power in May, but his great approach made it so his uptick in power was hardly noticeable in his overall line. In fact, since running a BB-K of 13-14 in April, Ackley has taken 38 BB’s against only 23 strikeouts in May and June. So essentially, Ackley’s power and walks are up, and his strikeouts are down. I have to wonder if Ackley gets a chance in AAA this year, or if he might even get a September call-up.
Nick Franklin, on the other hand, has seen his power dip a little bit after his awesome start. Not his home run power, which is nice to see. He hit 5 home runs in April, 4 in May, and now has 5 in June. He has, however, only hit 2 doubles and no triples after hitting 10 doubles and 6 triples in the first two months. It’s not a great dip in power, but it’s there. More troubling might be his dip in contact.
Don’t be too scared though, it’s not all bad. His walk rate has remained fairly steady. He has 6 in June (19 games) after having 8 in May (27 games) and 7 in April (21 games) so it’s not like his approach has changed. However, after whiffing only 15 times in April, he struck out 27 times in May and has racked up 20 K’s in May. It’s up to Franklin to make an adjustment to whatever hole in his swing pitchers have found and get back to hitting the ball hard on a regular basis instead of just punishing mistakes and putting them over the fence. If he’s going to succeed at the higher levels, he can’t just live on mistake hitting.
He also has a pretty sizable platoon split. As a right-hander, batting against lefties he has just a .678 OPS and .140 ISO. Batting as a lefty against the righties of the league he has a .946 OPS and a .269 ISO. Franklin is just in A ball, and it’s an extremely small sample size, but I have to wonder that if this continues into the next year or two if the Mariners might ask him to give up hitting right-handed. It’s premature to ask him now, as he’s only 19-years-old, but it’s something to think about.
Regardless of Franklin’s terrible June, where he hit only .208/.291/.429, he’s still running a .290/.346/.529 season line as a 19-year-old shortstop with enough defensive value that he may stick at the position. Now it’s all a matter of adjustments for Franklin.
Regardless of Franklin’s downward trend, it seems that the Mariners have a pretty solid looking middle infield of the future. For the first time in a long time, M’s fans can look at their minor league system with hope for developing impact position players. Sure, prospects are never a sure thing, but these two are closer than we’ve had in awhile.
*DISCLAIMER: I don’t claim to be a scout or anything of the sort, I’m just looking at available minor league numbers that are more process oriented like K rate, walk rate, ISO, etc.