Mariners Analysis: Where in the World is Danny Hultzen?

Every year I seem to ask myself, “Hey, what ever happened to Danny Hultzen?”

Danny Hultzen was once considered a top Mariners prospect.  He was a part of the big three; the pitching trio of James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Hultzen himself.  Today he is an injury plagued free-agent who never made it to the majors.

It was reported earlier this week by Seattle Times Mariners beat writer Ryan Divish, that Hultzen, who some had thought had retired, in fact, did not retire. But, will take 2017 off from baseball and look to make a comeback in 2018.  In the mean time, Hultzen will be rehabbing a shoulder injury, while finishing up a history degree at the University of Virginia.

Hultzen pitched three seasons at Virginia during his collegiate career, winning the John Olerud Award during his junior year -the award is given to the nation’s best two-way player- as well as being a Golden Spikes award finalist given to the nation’s best player.

In 2011, Hultzen was drafted second overall by the Mariners and the “iconic” Mariners General Manager, Jack Zduriencik. That’s right Jack Z, the man who brought Mariners fans Chone Figgins and Hector Noesi.

Hultzen was drafted second overall behind Gerrit Cole of the Pirates.  Hultzen was drafted before the likes of Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, George Springier, and Trevor Bauer who all went later in the first round.

Who knows how those players would have developed in the Mariner’s minor league system back then, but those are some names that Mariners fans would love to have today.  Hultzen is just another player in the recent long line of failed early round draft picks.  Hopefully, the new regime will turn that around.

Throughout his early minor league career, Hultzen was a big trade piece that the Mariners never pulled the trigger on to go get a big bat that the Mariners seemed to always desperately need.  During his minor league career, Hultzen made it as high as AAA Tacoma in 2012 and 2013.  Injuries always seemed to cut Hultzen’s seasons short.

Hultzen did not pitch in 2014 because of a shoulder injury and has only appeared in 12 games since 2013.  Through four seasons in the minor leagues, Hultzen has started all 37 games he has appeared in, with a record of 14-9 including a 2.86 ERA.  He pitched a total of 169.2 innings with 189 strikeouts and a .199 opponent average.  Those numbers sound great, but the kid simply has never been able to stay healthy.

During those injury plagued years, the Mariners organization approached Hultzen about a coaching position, but Hultzen turned them down and continued to pitch.

The best case scenario is that Hultzen returns in 2018, pitches extremely well in the minors, and gets called up to the big leagues. Then he would proceed to have a successful major league career as a starter and Mariners fans forget about his past struggles. That just might be a little unrealistic, but then again

That just might be a little unrealistic, but then again, it’s baseball and you never know.  A scenario that seems a bit more realistic is that Hultzen returns in 2018 and pitches somewhat close to his old minor league form, gets the call up the the big leagues and is a viable bullpen arm for the Mariners.  That is if he re-signs with the Mariners.  Either way, you have to root for the kid after all he’s been through.

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