The Seattle Mariners announced that LHP Danny Hultzen has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma late Thursday. Hultzen is currently ranked as the #2 prospect in the Mariners organization (according to mlb.com). He was drafted #2 overall in the 2010 Amateur Draft, out of the University of Virginia.
In his first minor league season last year, Hultzen saw mixed results. When he pitched in Doubl-A Jackson, Hultzen had a 1.19 ERA with only 32 walks in just over 75 innings pitched. However, when he was called up to Triple-A Tacoma, Hultzen had a brutally high ERA of 5.92 and walked 43 hitters in 48 innings pitched.
Hultzen has seen limited time in big league camp this spring, throwing only four innings, but he has seen his control improve, as he has only walked two batters.
The best quality that Hultzen had when he was drafted in 2010 was that he was more MLB ready than anyone else in the draft. Hultzen can still be considered young, at only 23 years old, but fans are becoming impatient waiting for him to make his debut.
One full minor league season is reasonable, but if Hultzen is not up by this June it will be time for GM Jack Zduriencik to make a decision about his future with the organization. If Hultzen is not a fit the organization he still has a lot of trade value. Zduriencik should strike quickly if that is the case, but I don’t think anybody wants to see that happen.
Although it is unrealistic to think that Hultzen would have made the opening day roster, I think he will need to prove himself over the next few months in the minor leagues.