Editor's Note: If you haven't heard yet, First Inning and Project Prospect have recently joined forces to launch the first Digital Prospect Guide. We're well underway with a pdf prospect guide that will include prospect video (embedded into the pdf), scouting reports like the ones below and statistics for most of the game's top 300 prospects. You can check out samples of the product here.
He’ll be tried at 2B, but he expects to ultimately play LF or CF
Over 86 AFL PA: 14.1% BB, 22.4% K, .315/.412/.425 line
Ackley’s nickname at UNC was Roy Hobbs
He was a SS/3B at North Forsyth High School (NC)
An outstanding athlete with a thin, wiry frame and terrific eye at the plate, Ackley’s fresh off one of the greatest hitting careers in NCAA history. UNC head coach Mike Fox called him the best player he’s ever coached – better than Brian Roberts, Chris Iannetta, Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard, Walt Weiss and B.J. Surhoff. Ackley is able to consistently rocket line drives all over the field due to his outstanding bat control and smooth swing. And while he was primarily a gap hitter during his first two college seasons, he quieted his power doubters by hitting 22 home runs and finishing the 2009 NCAA season second in the ACC in slugging (.763). Still, Ackley isn’t a guy who’s going to put up high home run totals in pro ball. He doesn’t try to loft the ball out of the park. “If hitting line drives is the worst thing I do, I guess I’ll have to take that,” the North Carolina native told us at the Arizona Fall League. Ackley walked 133 times while only striking out 82 over 999 college plate appearances. He was largely limited to playing first base in college due to a lingering elbow injury – which he had repaired (Tommy John surgery) prior to the 2009 season. But he likely would have been North Carolina’s center fielder if his arm, which he injured by pitching too much in high school, was healthy. He did spend some time in center during his junior season. Ackley said he expects to be tried at left field, center and second base going forward in pro ball. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll stick at second. He told us he thinks he’ll end up in the outfield but is willing to give second a shot. He could be a solid center field defender or good defender in left. Ackley’s arm is average at best. An above-average runner, he reads to ball off the bat well and takes efficient routes. Ackley should advance through the minors quickly. He’s a relatively safe bet to turn into an average or better MLB hitter. Pair his polished bat with defense that should be above-average and you have a guy with a pretty high ceiling and very high floor.
65.6% FB, 15.8% SL, 12.2% CH, 6.4% CB over 748 MLB pitches
2008 AFL totals: 27.7% K, 6.3% BB and 1.67 GO/AO (112 TBF)
113th pick in ‘05 (4th round); 2nd-highest unsigned pick that year
His last name is pronounced Mat-us
One of the most polished pitchers from the 2008 Draft class, Matusz reached the majors in his first full season. He totaled 157.2 innings in 2009 before the Orioles shut him down – after his September 12th start. The Arizona native commands five offerings: straight FB (4-seam), 2-seam FB, curve, slider and changeup. His fastball sat at 89-93 MPH during his time in the majors. He also showed an above-average changeup (81-84), plus curveball (75-79) and above-average slider (79-83) – velos from PitchFX. Matusz’ 4-seamer is more explosive than his 2-seamer and he commands the 4-seamer better. But the 2-seamer has good arm-side run and some tilt to it. Matusz’ walk rate has ranged from 6.3% to 7.6% over his four professional stops. It didn’t spike in majors, a tribute to the quality of his arsenal – especially when you factor in his quick ascent to the majors and that he skipped Triple-A. Eastern League lefties wanted nothing to do with him (3-for-39 with 1 BB and 14 K; .276 OPS). Matusz has an advanced feel for pitching and we don’t see any red flags in his mechanics. He repeats his delivery well and while his arm action may not be perfect, it doesn’t make him a bigger risk for injury than the average pitching prospect. Athletic, competitive and focused, he has a slow-tempo windup and a lightning quick arm. With the potential for four above-average offerings, Matusz could turn into a top-of-the-rotation starter in a hurry.
Anyone who pre-orders the Digital Prospect Guide will receive a mini-DPG with video, scouting an stats on our top 10 prospects. You'll also get a Stephen Strasburg bullpen session video and in-depth Dustin Ackley interview. Questions about the DPG, including media inquiries, can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or @adamwfoster on Twitter.