The Mariners got their big fish.
In the last few minutes of frenzied action before the deadline, it was a little scary to be a Mariners' fan. But in the end, Danny Hultzen, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft signed. A five-year MLB deal worth $8.5 million, together with a $6.35 million bonus. The maximum contract value is said to be $10.6 million.
He is immediately placed on the 40-man roster, and the corresponding move by the Mariners was to designate reliever Chris Ray (who has actually been really good since April, but this isn't about him) for assignment.
Hultzen, a finalist for the 2011 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, enjoyed a fantastic junior year for the Cavaliers, but it ultimately ended just a bit short of where he would have liked. Danny went three one-hit innings collecting eight strikeouts in his final start before having to leave the College World Series elimination game with an illness. His season from a personal standpoint was still an overwhelming success, however, and the Mariners rewarded him for his performance by making him the surprise second selection in the draft.
Hultzen went 12-3 with a 1.37 ERA and 0.84 WHIP while holding opponents to a .184 average and striking out 165 batters while only walking 23 as a Junior. For his career, Hultzen won 32 games and lost only five for the Cavaliers while striking out 395 batters—better than 100 more than the next most in Virginia history—and walking just 75 over 320 innings of work.
There are varying levels of enthusiasm about Hultzen, but most scouting reports agree that he had perhaps the highest floor (not ceiling) and would be the quickest mover of any arm in the draft. As for that scouting report, he throws a fastball—which gained a few miles-per-hour this season, and now regularly touches 94—a changeup with late fade and good arm speed, and a tight slider, which all flash as plus pitches. He throws from a low/mid three-quarters arm slot and has excellent control and potential for plus command.
He profiles as at least a No. 3 starter with the potential to become a legitimate No. 2 if he shores up his command and improves either of his secondary pitches.
The addition of Hultzen adds a huge piece to what is already a very impressive stock of pitching talent which Jack Zduriencik and the Seattle Mariners have in their organization—including James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Jose Campos. With the big league duo of Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda, there are a lot of possibilities in the near future.
No word yet on Hultzen's 2011 assignment, but don't be surprised if he simply stays in Arizona in Instructs and reports to Double-A to start his professional career in 2012.