May 29, 2011; Durham, NC, USA; Virginia Cavaliers pitcher Danny Hultzen (23) throws to a Florida State Seminoles batter in the championship game of the 2011 ACC Baseball Tournament at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE

Danny Hultzen, One Year Ago and MLB Draft talk

I love talking about MLB Draft and it’s that time of year that the wheels are just starting to turn. Some high schools are already practicing and most colleges are about two weeks from kicking off (the Washington Huskies kick off a three game series the 17th at San Deigo State). There is no way to even guess who certain teams are even interested in and who they are even looking at. I doubt that Scouting Directors even have a finalized list of who they are even going to see this spring. Regardless of if you are the top of the draft or even in the back, I’d imagine that all lists are all quite long and I guarantee they include more than just the “big” names. 

What’s funny is looking at all pre-draft top 100 lists back in February of last year there was some crazy projection. Crazy in the context of where they ended up actually being drafted.  Danny Hultzen was on our radar as Mariner fans and even when we drafted him there was a ton of uproar.

Now, we’re rocking some of the best young arms in baseball and possibly one of the best farm system -thanks to those young arms- in all of baseball. That’s not entirely done by Hultzen but he’s a contributing factor.

All that said to say that while it’s great to talk about some of the young draft prospects that will all be on the tip of our tounges early on in the season it’s quite possible that the young man, whose name will be announced by Bud Selig on June 4th, is one that we haven’t yet identified or really considered in depth.

Pick Name Baseball America Perfect Game
1 Gerrit Cole 2 2
2 Danny Hultzen 11 39
3 Trevor Bauer 16 36
4 Dylan Bundy 15 16
5 Bubba Starling 10 13
6 Anthony Rendon 1 1
7 Archie Bradley 9 8
8 Francisco Lindor 13 14
9 Javier Baez 38 27
10 Cory Spangenberg N/A 176
11 George Springer 4 4
12 Taylor Jungmann 6 5
13 Brandon Nimmo 29 89
14 Jose Fernandez 19 7
15 Jed Bradley 12 11

They obviously nailed Gerrit Cole pretty good. But the first 5 picks were kind of all over the place and weren’t legitimately predicted to be that high.  Hultzen obviously was disputed between both BA and PG as to where he was going to land but neither thought of him as a Top #5 talent.

This isn’t to say the same thing will happen this year. But looking at 2010 there is kind of a theme going on.

Pick Name Baseball America* Perfect Game
1 Bryce Harper 1 1
2 Jameson Taillon 1 3
3 Manny Machado 5 18
4 Christian Colon 6 12
5 Drew Pomeranz 4 4
6 Barret Loux 61 N/A
7 Matt Harvey 30 63
8 Delino DeShields N/A N/A
9 Karsten Whitson 3 7
10 Michael Choice 20 28
11 Deck McGuire 3 13
12 Yasmani Grandal 29 25
13 Chris Sale 5 9
14 Dylan Covey 4 8
15 Jake Skole N/A N/A

*Baseball America ranked their prospects based upon College and High School.

The first pick usually has a name or two that do stick around all year. While there is far less certainty with the 2nd pick and below. This is all brought to mind because the wonderful Jim Callis had an impromptu and real time chat over twitter yesterday. It was quite educational and he left a lot of good little bits. I took some snap shots and I thought I’d share them with you under the pretense of knowing that a lot of this can and most likely will change. 

 The individual that Jim associates with the Mariners is Junior Catcher Mike Zunino of the Florida Gators. He’s a guy that I’ve specifically been keeping tabs on since August. But, we’ll get a more complete scouting report of him in a second and don’t worry. They do address “it”.

The individuals that are spoken of here is Byron Buxton, Outfielder High School kid from Georgia, Devan Marrero shortstop and Junior out of ASU, and then again Mike Zunino.

 

 It’s obvious that as fans our first reaction is still to get that “big” proverbial big regardless of who is the best selection. But what was proven last year is that the organization is going to put what the wants of the people aside and going to draft the best available talent. I’m not saying that’s what Callis is saying here but it’s what a lot of people are thinking right now.

 This is a solid point by Callis. You obviously should never draft because of organizational weakness. But, it at times could be considered a tie breaker between talents. That obviously didn’t happen last year, however. It’s important to remember that there was a bit of a dispute among the scouting department on the 2nd pick and the rumor and general scuttle bud is that Jack Zduriencik over ruled and made the decision himself.

 Of course there would the one person to bring it up. But as I said. They answered it. And I think it’s more than a fair response.

 

Ahh… and here is the last one and most important. What could we expect from Zunino at this point? He’s a great talent and would instantly be one of the better minor league catching prospects at this point. But really that doesn’t quite put it all together. First of all, I really like Byron Buxton. I really like Buxton. If I had the #1 pick in the draft that’s whom I would select over Lucas Giolito (widely percived as the Dylan Bundy of this draft… only better). Buxton draws a lot of comparisons to both the Upton brothers from previous drafts. Though the one that I’ve heard the most often is Justin Upton. He’s a physical specimen, which isn’t unusual for someone in his position, but what stands out more to me is his ability to display that his talents already transition onto the diamond.

Enough about Buxton. Let’s talk about Callis’ pick Zunino.

I’ll just be straight with it. Zunino is a heck of a catcher. Perfect Game calls him the one whose risen above the rest to show he was the best among the 2009 catching crop. A crop that included Andrew Susac, Wil Meyers, J.R. Murphy, Tommy Joseph and Max Stassi (oh and Steve Baron… haha). Obviously calling Joseph and Meyers catchers is rather generous but the point is here that he’s taken some huge steps forward while in college.

Defensively Zunino is experienced behind the plate and has been catching in some form since 6 years old, despite being a shortstop up until Junior High. He’s already responsible for one of the countrys top college staff that includes Karsten Whitson, Brian Johnson, and Hudson Randall. He was ranked the #2 catcher out of the state back in 2009 but beat out the #1 guy and fellow recruit Austin Maddox, who now profiles as a pitcher at the next level, due to his great athletic player behind the plate and all around supirioer defense.

Most importantly, for all you big bat followers, he lead the SEC (one of the better pitching confrences in Division I) in home runs, was 2nd wOBA, OPS and placed in the top-5 in just about every single offensive category. The guy isn’t a middle of the order type hitter in pro ball. But he should be good enough to produce atleast average offensive at the plate, while also being an above average defender.

So, let’s bring this home. He’s an above average defender, with an above average raw power and likely an average major league hitter. Of course you can have some general concerns about being a right hander and how he would play in a place like Safeco most of what I read is that he’s a very smart ball player and so maybe some of that baseball IQ will play up at the plate. Which gives a bit of hope that he can learn to take advantage of pitches and drive the ball the other way, assuming he doesn’t show that already.

The biggest seller and this was mentioned by Callis is the fact that he could very well be a fast riser through the minor league system. Much in the same way Buster Posey did and he could arrive quicker should the organization that drafts him choose not hold him back, much the way the Giants did with Posey.

I know it’s not overwhelming in the same sense that Anthony Rendon was last year at his time. But, Zunino is a very good looking prospect and should his health hold up I’m quite certain he’ll be taken in the first 10 picks. Just remember how in love we were with the idea of getting Grandal from the Reds earlier this year and the thought of getting a better version is even more so enticing. That said, I still prefer Buxton. Toe-mato, Toe-mot-to. You have to phenetically spell it otherwise the whole… yeah you get the point. Everyone has their own opinion and I’m not one special. Just another guy with an opinion.

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Tags: Byron Buxton Danny Hultzen Mike Zunino

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