Happy [Insert Hultzen Nickname Here] Day


So, today is Dan Hultzen’s pro ball debut. This is an exciting day, not just for the Mariners but also many others that follow prospects in the minor leagues. While there is a lot invested in him and there are a lot of people that think he could break camp in the starting rotation, I think now is an appropriate time to calm everyone down.

I was certainly caught off guard — the same as everyone else — when Bud Selig called out Hultzen’s name from behind the podium nearly four months ago. I’m not entirely sure if I was alright with it at the time but I know I was certainly disappointed.

But given the time to talk with as many different people as possible (guys from Jay Yencich to Conor Glassey) I’ve certainly become rather excited about the big left hander.

Just like many others I had the hopes that the organization would add some depth to the minor league farm system — in the form of some hopefully all-star hitter – obviously that didn’t happen. But with the possibly arsenal, in which Hultzen currently pitches with, the fact is the Mariners didn’t make a bad choice selecting him.

That said, I’m not sold on him breaking spring training a part of this rotation for a number of reasons. While he has a bright future ahead of him at this point there is a level of risk that comes and is told time and time again with every pitcher. I really get sick of hearing it sometimes, but the bottom line is it’s true.

You also have to think there is an adjustment period that is needed. How much is it going to help the Mariners to throw Hultzen in the fire against major league hitters? Right now, I know they have a hole in the rotation but how much does it really help to have someone

There are also factors beyond just health and performance.

Baseball America produced a solid piece on Hultzen yesterday written by Bill Mitchell. I strongly suggest you check it out, it’s free to all. But there is a specific line in there by Mitchell that stuck out to me.

"“Hultzen has noticed how much freedom professional players have compared to the more regimented environment of college ball. That’s been the biggest adjustment he’s had to make since reporting to the Mariners.”"

Now this isn’t news to any of us. Young guys always experience an adjustment period when it comes to pro baseball players. This always the sentiment when it comes to kids coming out of high school but I think we forget how regimented some college programs are and under estimate how much of an adjustment in life style  change it truly is for someone in Hultzen’s position.

I don’t claim to know one way or another. The only way I could relate to it is when I get a new Airmen in our shop just in from their Technical School/Boot camp. Things were extremely regimented and now they have liberties that for the past 6 – 18 months they didn’t have previously. Everyone deals with it differently.

He may take off or he could use a couple of months down in AA-Jackson or AAA-Tacoma. Who knows, maybe he goes on and wins the Rookie-of-the-Year award after spending all season in the big leagues. Not that being with a team all season long is a requirement…just that you get the idea– it was a successful season.

Let’s be excited for Hultzen but at the same time let’s leave the next year season expectations at the door.