Dustin Ackley has been hitting every since he stepped on UNC's campus, and joins teammate Alex White among the top 3-7 overall prospects available for the 2009 draft. Like White, Ackley's talents were well known about in high school, and he didn't miss a beat during his freshman year hitting .402 with 33 extra-base hits and showing advanced mastery of the strike zone. He hasn't hit under .400 at any level during college, which includes a short stint on the Cape this past summer. He had Tommy John surgery last summer (which shortened his time on the Cape) to take care of some lingering elbow problems, and he expects to be at full strength for the beginning of the spring season after missing fall practices and scrimmages. But it's not Ackley's arm that excites scouts, it's his bat. He has a great, natural left-handed swing with a knack for making consistent, hard contact while rarely getting fooled at the plate. He drives the ball to the gaps with authority, and many expect his over-the-fence power to improve as his body matures and as he progresses as a hitter overall. A true and pure hitter, he should hit for a high average while drawing his fair share of walks while limiting the number of times he strikes out. Ackley is also a very good overall athlete, and could play centerfield next spring for the Tar Heels after spending his first two years at first base. He's similar to Darin Erstad in that regard in that his athleticism allows him to play both position, but his bat at this stage is more similar to Todd Helton's. I've even heard comparisons to John Olerud tossed around when Ackley's name has come up. No matter who you want to try and compare Ackley to, the fact remains that there is no more sure bet to hit at the next level. It doesn't seem as though many are concerned about his health problems, as the only real concern surrounding Ackley moving towards the 2009 draft is his affiliation with Scott Boras.
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