BLUF: Number three starter upside with high certainty for back of the rotation projection.
The Player: Danny Hultzen (LHP, Seattle Mariners) – Selected number two overall in the 2011 draft. Made official professional debut in 2012 at Double-A. Has posted a spectacular 1.19 ERA in 13 starts for Jackson. Allowed just 38 hits in 75.1 innings with 32 walks and 79 strikeouts.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Spring 2011), Industry Contacts
Body (6-3, 200): Strong guy. Broad shoulders with tapered body to waste. Athletic. Well-built guy that carries his muscle well. Excellent pitcher’s frame.
Delivery/Mechanics: Low-3/4 arm slot, plus-plus arm speed, slings the ball toward the plate, has natural deception, wide setup and deliberate movements through wind-up, repeats everything well, works down the mound, delivery reminds me a little of Andrew Miller, holds runners well with different looks, 1.29-1.44 to plate from stretch, relies heavily on SL/CH from stretch.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 95, Low – 91, Average – 91-93, Grade – 50/50
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 94, Low 90, Average 91-93, Grade – 50/50
Fastball (FB) Movement: Ball jumps at the batter at times. Good movement when down in the zone. Has ability to sink it and run it when he wants to. Good ability to manipulate ball. Overall plus movement with a variety of looks. Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: Intentionally light on the velocity grade. Truly solid-average to above-average velocity that plays up with movement and natural mechanical deception. Ball flattens out when up in the zone, losing angle to the plate. Grade – 60/60
Slider (SL): Arm angle works well for slider, consistent tight spin, can overthrow at times, good two-plan break with more sweep than downward bite, swing-and-miss pitch when it’s on. Reliable second pitch that is true plus. Grade – 60/60
Change-up (CH): Shows feel and willingness to throw, often too firm with it, has some arm-side fade. Will sink occasionally. Still needs work and repetition to get added feel for pitch. Average potential but definite third pitch in arsenal. Grade – 40/50
Control: Generally throws strikes. Pounds the zone with FB and SL and shows ability to throw CH for strikes at any time. Mechanical consistency lends well to strike throwing. Should have plus-plus control at MLB peak. Grade – 60/70
Command: Locates FB well to both sides. Has improved ability to elevate. Has spurts of plus command to all four quadrants. Projects to maintain plus command long term. Clean delivery. Arm works well. Everything points to command of full arsenal. Grade – 50/60
Summation: Misleading prospect. Doesn’t have classic ceiling of number two overall pick. Legit number three starter upside. Potential for three average or better pitches with two reaching plus status. Very confident on mound. Good presence. Good athlete. Controls running game well with varied looks and solid pickoff move. Can still improve fielding ability and movement off the mound but it should come with experience. Modest ceiling but high floor. Difficult to see him not becoming at least a solid back-of-the-rotation starter with number three ceiling.
Relative Risk: Low. Has already moved quickly to upper levels of minor leagues. Only standard injury risk remains.
Future: Could see MLB in 2012. Likely member of 2013 starting rotation and should settle into the middle of big league rotation very soon.