Mariners Top 20 Prospects: #15 LHP Danny Hultzen


Danny Hultzen lands at number 15 in SoDo Mojo’s countdown of the top 20 Seattle Mariners prospects.

The career of Danny Hultzen has been a turbulent one. The Seattle Mariners selected the University of Virginia alum with the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. Hultzen was billed as a “pro ready pitcher,” and was expected to race through the M’s system.

More from Mariners News

Instead, injuries have derailed Hultzen’s career. He missed the entire 2014 season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and pitched just 8 innings this past season before being shut down. It has been nearly five years since the M’s drafted Hultzen, and he has still never appeared in a big league game.

Hultzen has been dominant when healthy in the minor leagues. He sports a career record of 14-9 and has registered an ERA of 2.84 across 35 outings. Hultzen has struck out 186 hitters during his career, and has walked 87 over the course of 167.2 innings.

The Mariners were very aggressive with Hultzen, and started him with the Jackson Generals of the Southern League as a 22-year-old in 2012. The big left-hander dazzled, going 8-3 with a 1.19 ERA in 13 starts. Hultzen fanned 79 and issued 32 free passes through 75.1 innings of work. His strong showing in AA allowed him to finish the season with the Tacoma Rainiers.

The Washington, DC product was well on his way to making his Mariners debut in 2013 before going down with the shoulder injury. Across 6 starts with the Tacoma Rainiers in 2013, Hultzen was 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA. He struck out 34 and walked 7 in 30.2 innings. Most impressive of all, he limited the opposition to just 0.848 walks/hits per inning.

After making a brief appearance with the Mariners in Spring Training last year, Hultzen began the 2015 season with Seattle’s double-A affiliate in Jackson. The former top prospect made just 3 starts for the Generals, going 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA. He struck out 8 and walked 5 across 8 innings of work.

More from SoDo Mojo

The Mariners opted to shut Hultzen down in late July after he experienced tightness in his left shoulder. There is little doubt Seattle was hoping to see more from Danny in 2015, but playing it safe was likely a wise decision. The original plan was to send him to the Arizona Fall League, but things changed when he was designated for assignment following the season.

The 26-year-old southpaw passed through waivers unclaimed, and was outrighted to Tacoma. The Mariners no longer view Hultzen as a rotation candidate, and he is now in the process of permanently transitioning to the bullpen. This appears to be a greta idea for Hultzen and the M’s. He has the stuff to be an elite lefty specialist, and limiting his workload should help him stay healthy.

Next: Seattle Mariners Season Preview: James Paxton

A strong showing in Cactus League action this spring could propel Hultzen to make him M’s debut in 2016. There is always room for an effective left-handed reliever in Seattle, and Hultzen has more than enough talent to carve out a long career in this role.