The 2011 MLB Draft produced many great talents and the Seattle Mariners missed all of them
After drafting Taijuan Walker in the first round of the supplemental draft the previous year, Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik decided to go after another top tier pitching talent. With the second-overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft, the Mariners chose left-hand pitcher Danny Hultzen.
At the time, the University of Virginia product was one of the top college pitchers in the draft. Hultzen was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and posted an 11-3 record with a 1.57 ERA. He struck out 148 batters, which set the single-season best at the University of Virginia. Hultzen also became the all-time career leader in wins and strikeouts at his school. He was also ACC Pitcher of the Year twice and named to the All-ACC first-team for three consecutive years.
Hultzen had quite the college resume and picking him second overall was almost common sense, which is exactly what scouts thought when the Mariners selected Dustin Ackley. Danny showed a lot of promise after joining the Seattle Mariners farm system and dominated the minor leagues. He quickly went up the ranks and was pitching in Triple-A by 2012. But, most Mariners fans remember that Hultzen never pitched for the Seattle Mariners because of injury problems.
Hultzen needed surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in his shoulder in 2013. After that, he was never able to fully recover and be the same pitcher. He pitched three games in 2015 after he recovered but was never able to stay on the field. Hultzen dealt with recurring injuries that practically ended his career. The Cubs gave him a chance and he managed to pitch six games in the MLB, but that is it.
Who knows what would have happened if Hultzen did not injure his shoulder? The Mariners could have had the deadly trio of young starting pitchers like they had originally hoped: Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Danny Hultzen.
The Seattle Mariners select Brad Miller 62nd overall
The next pick by the Mariners was Brad Miller, out of Clemson University. Miller gave the Mariners several years of service but he did not become the player the team had hoped. Miller played for the Mariners from 2013 to 2015, which is more than Hultzen, but he was subpar, to say the least. His best season in Seattle was 2015, when he hit .258, hit 11 home runs, drove in 46 RBIs, and stole 13 bases.
Brad Miller was not the biggest draft bust, but he was not the greatest selection. After leaving the Mariners, he played for several other teams. In 2016, he played well for the Rays when he hit 30 home runs while batting .304. But besides 2016, his other stints have not been great.
Other Mariners selections
Jack Zduriencik selected Kevin Cron in the third round, 92nd overall, and he did not even sign with the Seattle Mariners. Cron just made his MLB debut in 2019 for the Diamondbacks as a 26-year-old. You could consider Kevin Cron a bust, who owns a career .170 MLB average over 47 games.
The Mariners also selected Carter Capps 121st overall and he played for the Mariners for two years. He had a decent rookie campaign in 2012 as a young 21-year-old but was unable to repeat in 2013.
The other selections by the Mariners are all irrelevant players who never made an impact for the Mariners or any other team in the MLB. The MLB Draft is one of the more difficult drafts to succeed in, but what is disappointing is the amount of talent that came out of this specific draft. The Seattle Mariners miserably failed to draft any quality assets in the 2011 Draft.
MLB Stars that came out of the 2011 Draft
When looking at the full draft list, the Seattle Mariners had numerous opportunities to draft current MLB stars. For example, Trevor Bauer was the third overall pick right behind Hultzen. Bauer was the Golden Spikes Award winner over Hultzen that year, and look how that turned out.
Anthony Rendon was also the sixth overall pick by the Washington Nationals out of Rice University. To make Mariners fans feel even worse, Francisco Lindor was drafted eighth overall, and Javier Baez was drafted ninth overall.
After a couple of picks, George Springer was selected 11th overall out of the University of Connecticut, Jose Fernandez was selected 14th, and Sonny Gray was selected 18th. The players I have mentioned above probably would have been a reach for the Mariners at the time, but it is sad to think about all of the opportunities the team had.
After Brad Miller (62nd) and Carter Capps (121st) were drafted, there were several other notable players drafted. Mike Clevinger (135th), Tyler Glasnow (152nd), Mookie Betts (172nd), and Marcus Semien (201st) were all selected after Capps. It makes you want to punch a wall right?
That being said, the Seattle Mariners had multiple opportunities to pick some of the late-round steals. Jack Zduriencik swung and missed on a high school Mookie Betts in the fifth-round and many others. Pretty unfortunate to consider all of the possibilities had the Seattle Mariners won the lottery in the 2010 and 2011 draft.
I guess the learning lesson here is to not expect too much from prospects, and be thankful for the draft picks that Jerry Dipoto has been successful with. The best example being Kyle Lewis who just won the 2020 AL ROY and is now the face of the franchise.