Hultzen Conundrum Continues

It’s been tough to get a handle on Danny Hultzen during his time with the Rainiers.

The Mariners top pitching prospect dominated Double-A Jackson, posting a 1.19 ERA in 13 starts. He certainly looked like he was ready for a promotion to Tacoma – I was even clamoring for it.

But a closer look at the Double-A stats show that there may have been a problem: he walked 32 batters in 75 innings for the Generals – and that’s too many.

Double-A hitters chase far more pitches out of the strike zone than Triple-A hitters, something Hultzen has learned here in Tacoma.

After last night’s first inning – which Hultzen did not finish, walking four batters including two with the bases loaded while recording only two outs – he has now walked 33 batters in 42 innings for Tacoma.

Hultzen hasn’t allowed many hits – when he’s throwing strikes, he is very, very tough. But walks have completely derailed him in most of his Triple-A starts.

Obviously, this is something that needs to be corrected – and I don’t know how to do it, that’s what pitching coaches are for. Hultzen has not been able to adjust from start-to-start, so it might require (I’m speculating here) a more serious mechanical change that would occur during the off-season.

At any rate, as Mariners fans we need to slow down our Danny Hultzen expectations. He’s unlikely to contribute this September, and we should not expect him to make the Mariners starting rotation next spring.

Major league hitters are even more patient and selective than Triple-A hitters. Hultzen is going to need to refine his control and go on a run of quality starts in Triple-A next year before he is ready for the next level.

One thing to remember: this is his first professional season. Expectations aside, the Mariners and us fans should be elated that he had the success he did in Double-A and reached Triple-A in his first pro season. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Tacoma lost last night, 4-2. The bullpen pitched 8.1 scoreless innings after Hultzen left, but the offense never really got going.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and it’s our final home night game of the season. Tacoma starts RHP Erasmo Ramirez (4-3, 4.43) against Las Vegas LHP Brett Cecil (1-1, 2.43). You can catch the broadcast on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here.

Links:

  • We start with the Rainiers game story from The News Tribune. Manager Daren Brown had a positive outlook on Hultzen’s rough game.
  • Rainiers reliever David Pauley was suspended 50 games by the Commissioner’s Office for failing a test for “drugs of abuse.” The Mariners placed him on the restricted list and activated Cesar Jimenez from the disabled list to take his spot in Tacoma. Pauley has gone home, and his future with the Mariners will be sorted out later.
  • The Mariners eight-game win streak ended in ridiculous fashion.
  • In the PCL, Reno got shut out at home by Fresno, 2-0. Adam Eaton did not play – he has a mild concussion; this is a big loss for Reno if he misses much time down the stretch.
  • Colorado Springs split a doubleheader in Tucson, leaving them three games behind Reno. They could have been two back but they lost the second game in extra innings.
  • Salt Lake defeated Sacramento and the River Cats magic number to clinch over Las Vegas remains at five.
  • Memphis has Lance Berkman in the lineup and the Redbirds topped Albuquerque last night, 9-8.
  • Chasing Albuquerque is New Orleans. The Zephyrs pulled within three games with a 6-0 shutout of Omaha. The story details how the big Red Sox – Dodgers trade could really hurt Albuquerque down the stretch – but I’m not so sure about that. Once the Dodgers add Gonzalez, Crawford, Punto and Beckett, they will have to send down four players…
  • Outfielder Tony Campana led the Iowa Cubs to victory.

Wow – it sure is a lot less time-consuming to put together the links when no newspapers are travelling with the Mariners.

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One Response to Hultzen Conundrum Continues

  1. mike says:

    That 3 Tacoma Rainers players that have been suspended by MLB.. Prentice Redmond who is now playing at Independent pro baseball because no team will signed him, Chaz Roe has yet to sign this season.. Now Pauley when will they learn… He was doing so good that if M’s had spot on 40, I think he would been called up..

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