If Dustin Ackley pans out to be the best major league baseball player produced by the University of North Carolina, he'll have to surpass a former Tar Heel who had similar skills.
Right down to their builds (6 feet 1, 185 pounds), left-handed batting stance, right-handed throwing style and defensive versatility, Ackley is tracking along the same path as B.J. Surhoff.
In a major league career that lasted almost two decades -- 1987 through 2005 with Milwaukee, Baltimore and Atlanta -- Surhoff batted .282, with 188 home runs, 1,153 runs batted in and more than 2,300 base hits. During that stretch, he played regularly at catcher, third base and the outfield.
Ackley, the No. 2 overall draft pick this year who signed Tuesday with Seattle, was a collegiate first baseman who may shift to second base or center field as a pro.
But by waiting to sign a contract, Ackley has virtually no chance to reach the big leagues as quickly as Surhoff, who debuted with the Brewers at age 22 and after having played only 192 minor league games over two years.
Ackley will turn 22 on Feb. 26, roughly a month before the 2010 minor and major leagues schedules begin.
Where Ackley comes to rest among all-time former ACC players probably hinges on his position. Led by Georgia Tech, the league has produced a number of former and current pro standouts. Two of the top hitters of the season -- the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira (GT) and Washington slugger Ryan Zimmerman (Virginia) -- have ACC roots.
But for a league that's been playing baseball for almost 60 years, the ACC hasn't exactly been a launching pad to Cooperstown. One of the league's best alums -- former Cincinnati Reds star Gordy Coleman -- didn't even play baseball during his college days at Duke.
Don't forget that the ACC's first school year was 1953-54, which was after Dick Groat played at Duke and Charlie (King Kong) Keller at Maryland.
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