POTD Danny Hultzen, LHP - Timeline

Q.  Makeup?

A.  Here's a big thing, now.  Zduriencik has this thing with finding LHP's based on makeup.  Here's another Capt Jack LHP call.  Get ready.

I like the "hockey player" comp:  ferociously dialed in between the lines, mild-mannered off it.  Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer.

Saw one comment that Hultzen has "big league game prep" -- goes through drills with focus and a purpose.


Q.  Are the reports of 95 mph interesting?  Does he have upside?

A.  One of the things I like best about drafting Hultzen:  he has no upside.  You know what I'm saying?  You get exactly what you see right now, and no more.  There is ZERO guesswork with this guy.

I mean, when Johan Santana was 95 mph with a fearsome changeup, he was fanning 11 men a game and he was the best pitcher since Pedro.  If Hultzen did gain on his FB he could do that.

But all these guys - Hamels, Danks, Bedard, etc. - touched 95 here and there.  Hultzen doesn't look to me like he's left any velocity on the table.  :- )



Q.  Timeline?

A.  The Mariners, in essence, took Hultzen #1 overall.  (It says here that Cole was a simple blunder, so the M's had the field, and they took Hultzen.)

You don't take a no-upside college pitcher #1 overall if you aren't writing him into your ML rotation real quick.  Danny Hultzen is not a prospect.  He's analogous to an NPB signing.

Any timeline later than spring 2013 is just circling the airport.  Second half 2012 is logical.


We saw plenty of comments that Hultzen could get major leaguers out right now.  Why couldn't he?  It's not like he's going to take the mound in Safeco, and fail to command his fastball.  

Ever watch the WBC?  How much prep do Japanese pitchers need, to get big league hitters out?


Q.  So you've got Paxton next spring and Hultzen the year after.  What do you do with these guys?

A.  Have you ever watched a team that was desperate for starting pitching?  What do those teams give for Doug Fister-caliber starters who are making $1M per season, multiple seasons?

With Paxton and Hultzen, the M's have quickly added two top-25 prospects in quick succession.  MLB-ready.


Q.  Executive Summary?

A.  If the Angels, or Rangers, or anybody, run into a 91 mph lefty with superb command, who can really pull the string, they're well advised to grab him.  That's a game that just works great in the majors.

Hultzen would appear to be a pristine example of the template.  Biggest problem is clearing the rotation out for him.


Good show Tom and Jack,

Dr D



One of the things about your writing, Doc, that I admire most is the combination confidence and humility.  It is an art to be able to weave that together so well. 
I wanted Bauer if they were going to take a pitcher too.  But as the net rat, I'm not putting my livelihood on the line in making the pick.  If my first reaction is anger, I should probably question why the big disconnect?
We look at all of our fancy metrics and radar readings and all that, but we still watch this statement play out game. after. game. after. game:  "hitting is timing.  Pitching disrupts timing".  Someone pretty good at hitting said that a very long time ago.  It could very well be that the dummies in the front office are ahead of the experts again.
BTW, if Hultzen has a 60% chance to be Hamels and Bauer has a 40% chance to be Lincecum, how big of a "loss" is that really?


I'm interested in how much these tidbits matter:
As a hitter, he has 372 college ABs and his eye ratio is 55 BB/ 53 K.
On the basepaths, he was 18-for-19 on SB attempts (over 3 seasons)
Not saying "let him hit" (although sometimes with this offense . . . ), but wondering if it factors into the analysis of Hultzen as a pitcher.  He's a 6-3, 200 guy stealing some bags and legging out a couple of triples. And he didn't strike out much himself (14.2%).  Just wondering.


From Drayer:
With all of the players available at two I asked what put him over the top for the Mariners. Zduriencik had what I thought was a surprising answer. 
"A gut feeling more than anything else," he said. "You could have taken one, two or three, other players and you would have been very happy with those guys but I think any of us in the game for a long time realize the premium on pitching, the extra premium on left handed starting pitching, and that as we sat there and waited...When you can get the best college left handed pitcher available? It was tough to pass up."


This is a series in itself...
Without trying to pat our own series on its back :- ) ... I'm convinced that Zduriencik INTUITED the things discussed.
As a chess-computer fan, the subject of human grandmaster intuition is a specialty.  You'd be amazed the things the human mind absorbs subconsciously.
Chessmasters constantly say things like "In positions of this type, the attacker benefits from trading the second pair of rooks" and they cannot even tell you what they mean by Positions of This Type."
Later generations specify the recipes that the supergrandmasters were following intuitively.
It says here that Zduriencik looked at LHP's with great command, pitchability, and excellent change-speed games, and SENSED that their chances of success are high, high, high.
Or not :- )
For me, this specific Danny Hultzen call is one solid piece of evidence that Zduriencik is a supergrandmaster.


Just real quick Spec, my $0.03...
=== THEORY DEPT. ===
1.  It doesn't seem to me like it should be an advantage.  After all, pitchers in 1880 were as good at hitting as outfielders, and the OPS+ ratio between pitchers and hitters has fallen every year since.  Logically you'd want specialists.
2.  You could say that Hultzen's a great athlete, which should be an advantage...
But supposing he's great at hitting, or at shooting baskets, or at golf.  So what?
That means he should be able to pitch pretty good?  AAA pitchers pitch real good.  We're talking about the 5th standard deviation vs the 6th SD.  Good hitting might suggest you could be 2nd SD at pitching.
1.  Generally, you look at single-season leaderboards of best-hitting pitchers and they're packed with stars.
The worst-hitting pitchers are equally mixed between Big Units and Ben Sheetses, and nobodies.  But the best-hitting pitchers seem disproportionately big names.
2.  I like Bill James' rule that an athlete who works on the thankless parts of his game, that's an overachiever who will do well.
=== NL ===
1.  A great-hitting pitcher is worth much more than you'd think.  There can be 10 runs' a year difference between the good ones and the bad ones... .25, .33, even .50 difference on the ERA.
=== OVERALL ===
It's amusing to me that Hultzen can steal bases and run a 1.00 EYE, but wouldn't put a thumb on the scale for it.  Modern sports are about extreme specialization.
But if I were the M's, I would definitely use double-switches a LOT in interleague games.  I love double-switches; they're way underrated.  :- )


is Jack's leash to turn this franchise around. I do not doubt that prospects' potential to reach the majors quickly plays a part. For this pick, either himself or the bat we trade him for...

G Money's picture

So I missed the first 2 days of the draft, though I nearly threw my phone in a seafood place on the Oregon coast when my laughing about the Pirates letting Rendon slip turned into anger at Hultzen.
That said, Hultzen was my 3rd ranked college pitcher.  Bauer, then Jungmann, then Hultzen.  He's ready now and while he doesn't throw 100 he should get guys out now.  No need to wait to bake that pie, he looks about ready to ding.
I agree with another commenter that upside is Glavine.  Downside is uselessness, or at least terminal mediocrity.  Downside is 91 mph Gil Meche.
Upside?  2012 rotation.  And you might look at the fact that he's not a Boras client and might potentially sign before August 15th as a benefit of his selection.  He, Bauer and Jungmann should all be fast movers, IMO- if their stuff works on pro hitters.
Hultzen could throw a few starts this year, or in the fall league, and get ready for competing next season in spring training. Like you say Doc, he's a shot at competing NOW, not waiting 3-4 years for a Starling type to come through.
What I don't like? I keep hearing the talking heads bleating about how pitching is just more and more important or valuable as we get out of the steroid era.  The reverse is true: GOOD hitting is now back at a premium, so you won't be able to buy it or trade for it.  Guys who can hit 95 MPH fastballs on the black are not common any more.
And we skipped a guy who can do that.  Drafting Cron is potentially a good investment - for 2015. He's a shot at a Konerko/Delgado catcher conversion that failed with Clement, but he can club.  There are worse things.
He's not Rendon.
Drafting Hultzen, to me, means Bedard HAS to be traded at the deadline - or you move Vargas/Fister in the offseason in a package for somebody's clubber.  If you can add a Jesus Montero type for Erik, you do it.  If you need to trade Taijuan Walker to get a bat in here, you do it.
We're on the clock. We need a deeper pen and a better lineup, and we need it now.  Hultzen over Rendon means we chose the closest pitcher to the bigs who is already primed to bring his (#3-starter?) skillset with a couple months' notice.  And that we preferred that to the immediate MOTO offensive impact Rendon could have made at a position of desperate need.
So now we have an excess of starting pitching, and not nearly enough hitting ready in the minors. 2nd round SS Brad Miller isn't gonna come in and back Smoak in the MOTO anytime soon, and Ackley alone isn't enough. 
Time to find some lumber on the open market - somehow.


Wow - thanks DC -
At 1:08:05 you can see a high fastball that looks David Price velo, followed by an offspeed for the garbage K.... the reports of 95 mph are obviously feasible based on that video.
At 1:10:00 you can see the vaunted change.  Replay it a few times, check out the arm action, and the parachute that pops out of the ball.  The difference in speed looks like 15 mph or something.
Definitely has a lot of Sid Fernandez in him - more sidearm than we expected, real low CG (no "stand tall" rock at all; actually crouching "at the top"), hides the ball like Sherrill...
Take it back about Santana.  That's not off the table.  The upside is definitely higher than SSI presumed.


Provides me an easy 'roundtable' post though :- )
... Zduriencik indicated that the M's are going to let Hultzen rest after college, so if they let him compete for the rotation next spring, then Z would definitely climb several rungs on the "outside the box" charts...
Officer thinking, there, on the trade options...


And you've got the Cust decision, the Pineda decision, the Cheney carousel now...
Don't know if he's getting pressure -- if he had any, it has probably been C02'ed with the surprising W/L record here --
... but he definitely is behaving as though this WEEK's victories are paramount...

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