Seattle Mariners’ Spring Battles: Second Southpaw Reliever

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The Dark Horse: Danny Hultzen

Danny Hultzen was at one point the top prospect in the Seattle Mariners’ farm system. However, he missed the entire 2014 season recovering from shoulder surgery. The former number two overall pick pitched in his first game action since the surgery on March 11th against the Colorado Rockies. The 25-year-old held the Rockies off the scoreboard in his lone inning of work. While his debut was not perfect, Hultzen showed glimpses of why he was at one point considered a potential top of the rotation arm. He has a live arm, and on Wednesday his fastball was consistently clocked between 93 and 95 mph.

Feb 26, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Danny Hultzen poses for a portrait during photo day at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Virginia alum was on the fast track to the big leagues prior to hurting his shoulder in 2013. He was plagued by injures thought that season, but he dominated his competition when he was healthy. Hultzen started six games with the Tacoma Rainiers in 2013, going 4-1, and posting a ridiculous 2.05 ERA. He struck out 10.0 hitters per 9 innings, and allowed just 2.1 walks. His 4.86 strikeout to walk ratio was tops on the team among starting pitchers. The Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter friendly, and to limit the opposition to 0.848 walks/hits per innings is remarkable.

I still believe the Mariners view Danny Hultzen as a starting pitcher, and would prefer not to utilize him out of the bullpen in 2015. However, he may have the best arm amongst his competitors, and he could always transition back to being a starter at a later date. Hultzen is likely ticketed to begin the season in the Rainiers’ starting rotation. I love Hultzen’s potential, and if he can stay healthy, I expect to see him in Seattle sometime this season.

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