It didn’t take long to shake things up in this year’s draft. With the second pick in the first round, the Seattle Mariners selected University of Virginia LHP Danny Hultzen.
The shake up wasn’t a result of Hultzen being a reach. After all, of the 22 mock drafts that were updated this month in the MLB Mock Draft Database, 20 of them had the college lefty going in the top-5. That database features a total of 50 mocks and 58% of them had Hultzen joining the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 3rd pick overall.
In terms of talent, Hultzen deserved to go this high, and he even landed in the top spot on Jim Callis’ June 3rd mock draft.
At 6’3″ and 200 lbs, Hultzen has the frame, the build and the athleticism to stick and thrive in a rotation. On top of the physical attributes, he is an Academic All-American who displays mound presence and a feel for pitching. This season he picked up a couple of ticks on his fastball and that certainly helped his stock as a draft prospect though he was already in the 1st round conversation. Now his fastball sits solidly in the low-90s and can top out at 96. He couples that with a changeup that is already a plus pitch as opposed to a work in progress, which is typically the case with regard to most young pitching prospects. Hultzen also throws a slider which shows some promise to be above average.
Just based on what I listed above he’s a 1st round pick. With the frame, athleticism, two plus pitches and a third that flashes as above average there is plenty to get excited about. The icing on the cake, however, is his command which currently rates as above-average. Naturally, being left-handed certainly doesn’t hurt his standing as a prospect.
He still needs to do some work to find an arm slot that maximizes his array of pitches and become more consistent, but coaching, repetition and experience in the minor leagues will help smooth those things out. Of all the pitchers available in the 2011 draft class, Hultzen is the safest bet to live up to and reach his promise.
2009: 95.1 IP, 2.17 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 28 BB, 107 SO
2010: 106.2 IP, 2.78 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 24 BB, 123 SO
2011: 103.1 IP, 1.57 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 17 BB, 148 SO
I’m not a fan of wins and losses as a statistical measure for pitchers, but it is worth mentioning that he went 31-5 in his three seasons at UVA.
Hultzen lacks the power stuff to be regarded as a future ace, but, with the rest of his assets he has the potential to be a solid #2 starter. If the Mariners remain committed to keeping Felix Hernandez around, and Michael Pineda continues to develop he could slot in behind those guys giving Seattle a deadly trio of arms in their rotation.
With his intelligence and polish, Danny Hultzen should be able to move through the minor leagues rather quickly. A major league ETA of 2013 is not out of the question.