It's been some time since we last checked in with Danny Hultzen, so I thought it was time that we check in with Danny Hultzen. I've seen his name mentioned in a few different places lately so here I will put it all together. The things that I've seen on Danny Hultzen. I will put those things together. I will not put all things together. I am not here to build a katamari of the universe.
First thing: as you know, Hultzen has been pitching with the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League. He's thrown 19⅓ innings over six appearances, allowing three runs and one homer while generating five walks and 18 strikeouts. I do not present these statistics because you should read into them; you should not read into them. You should read none of the way into them. I present these statistics as filler because they seem relevant to the discussion, and I feel weird when a post ends up with a small word count.
Second thing: an awesome Danish(??) company called TrackMan has been following the AFL and analyzing the play-by-play in order to provide some super interesting information. Among that information, they have Hultzen throwing his average fastball at 92.5mph, topping out at 95.1mph. On the one hand, Hultzen has been throwing those fastballs over shorter appearances than he'll get as a starter, maybe inflating his velocity, but on the other hand, it's not like he arrived in the AFL fully stretched out. So Hultzen can bring some heat. I highly recommend visiting that link and going through all the pages. Look for mentions of Brian Moran, Adam Moore, Nick Franklin, and Chih-Hsien Chiang. Brian Moran is a player in the Mariners' system. TrackMan either incorrectly labels Adam Moore as a Brave, or the Danes know something we don't.
Third thing: a short while ago, Jon Heyman tweeted that Hultzen will have a chance to make the Mariners' rotation in spring training. We've heard this talk before, and it doesn't mean much to say that Hultzen will have a chance - a chance doesn't have to be a good chance - but it is an indication of how high the Mariners are on him, and how close they think he is to being Major League-ready. The Mariners selected Hultzen in part because he was so close, and nothing has changed. I guess now that I think about it, I don't know why anything would have changed.
Fourth thing: Danny Knobler talked to two scouts in Arizona, and they both said they like Hultzen more than Gerrit Cole, who you'll recall was drafted first overall. We're talking about the subjective opinions of two unidentified people based on very limited information, so don't make more of this than you should, but I will say that Hultzen's star seems to be getting brighter and brighter. People who see him love him.
Fifth thing: Shannon Drayer caught up with Adam Moore, who has been catching Hultzen. What did Moore have to say about the guy?
"Uh, yeah. It is not a secret with [Danny] Hultzen," he said. "That guys is good. Not only with talent and stuff, he understands what he wants to do out there. His fastball and changeup command are ridiculous. His slider is real good, too. He is the real deal."
You would expect Moore to have good things to say about Hultzen, just because they're members of the same organization and it's the polite thing to do, but the extent to which Moore went to praise Hultzen is telling. He specifically mentioned Hultzen's command and preparation. The former is important for obvious reasons, and the latter is important, too. "Smart" can be a synonym for "finesse-throwing" or "hittable", but it seems Hultzen has a good idea of sequencing. We've had talented Mariners pitchers who were not so good at sequencing. I doubt that'll be an issue with Hultzen. He should be happy to mix up speeds and locations.
It's important that we don't get ahead of ourselves with Danny Hultzen. He still has a ways to go, and if we start counting on him as a certain contributor now, all he'll really be able to do is meet or disappoint. But Danny Hultzen is coming, Danny Hultzen is close, and Danny Hultzen stands a chance to be real good. Yay, Danny Hultzen.