Hultzen's Chances = 80% (bottom line dept.)


Q.  Is Hultzen better, or worse, than the NCAA field here?

A.  I would firmly argue that Hultzen has a better chance than the field of becoming an ML All-Star in at least one season .... but maybe a worse chance than the field of becoming a Cy Young winner.

Hultzen's LH change-speed game is tailor-made for the bigs.  Being lefty itself is an advantage; only Andrew Miller has failed, and he's wild.

On the other hand, a boatload of these star college SP's had 97 mph to their names -- Strasburg, Price, Morrow, Verlander, if not others.


Q.  Is that good or bad, that Hultzen is a conservative pick?

A.  SSI is delighted with the fact that the M's got a very wide rectangle here, a high % of success, as opposed to a very tall one, a lotto shot at a HOF'er.  That's the way that the Brewers got good.  Consistent return on their high picks.


Q.  SSI found that LHP's who worked off straight changeups did unusually well in the majors.  Why?

A.  Yes, there are basically two SP's in the majors right now who throw FB-change.  Those being Cole Hamels and Johann Santana.

I suspect it has to do with the fact that you can't* hang a changeup.  

A lefty who throws a curve, and gets under it, gives up a homer right then and there -- Alex Liddi loves bloop curves from LHP's and Jim Thome doesn't do badly with 'em, either.  On the other hand, when Jamie Moyer missed with a change, it was usually just a ball, low-and-away.

Ricky Romero throws 70% FB, 20% change and mixes in 10% curves.  He can go to the change when behind in the count, rather than the dangerous curve, and he too has overperformed in the big leagues.


Q.  The bottom line?

A.  A team drafting a guy like Dan Hultzen has the right to expect him to be a TOR in the major leagues.

If a team drafts 1-2 and gets exactly the college SP it wants, and if that guy doesn't become a 15-game winner, it really is pretty much a FAIL on the team drafting him.  You ought to be able to find a guy who will be good, and probably you ought to be able to avoid injury, too.


Q.  What about the performance that Spectator discussed?  Learn anything from that?

A.  All things considered, he left us wondering a bit, as to whether he's the type of pitcher that Taro projected, or the type that SSI did....

Lots of strikes, despite being very rusty ... he'd looked like a pitching machine on the vids and for him to fall out of bed and throw 25 strikes, 16 balls, mow down the lineup, that's what you expected.  Zduriencik had said of Paxton, "don't expect miracles early on" ... but with Hultzen you can reverse that.  You expect Hultzen to come out ready to roll.

He came with fastball after fastball, and in his second inning he was 92-94.  Michael Pineda, under the same circumstances, would show you about the same velocity.

Although Hultzen had three pitches (change, slider) and he used them confidently (starting the #3 hitter off with back-to-back changeups) he really pitched more in David Price mode than in Andy Pettite mode.

So, that was interesting.  Hultzen in this one outing threw like a power pitcher.


Q.  Chances for making the M's rotation out of spring training?

A.  Zduriencik said he gets a legit shot, and I predict he'll have excellent stats in March.  You could guess the rest as well as I could.

I'd like to see Hultzen get rolling in AA/AAA next year, get his feet firmly on the ground, and join the M's, like in June.  But Zduriencik promised the opportunity ...


Be Afraid,

Dr D



Aesop's picture

but there's something I worry about with him. He has a very deliberate wind up to home plate with the bases empty, and since he is a super duper athlete he is able to repeat it nearly everytime. As a result of his absolute dominance over the NCAA, he only had to pitch from the stretch a small handful of times throughout each game, and when he did his control (still quite good) wasn't as crisp. I've seen it many times  but a pitcher is rolling along like he's playing a beer league softball team, and then a guy bloops his way on base, then the next guy walks, and suddenly the wheels are coming off.
He will quite clearly have to pitch from the stretch more often in the pro's, and maybe he will make the necessary adjustments, I've heard he's a bright guy. But it could be something he could struggle with early on. It's something I think gets overlooked a lot, that guys with funky deliveries can often struggle repeating themselves from the stretch. 


When he broached the subject of Hultzen competing for a job in ST, he brought up the whole "first we have to see what he looks like in a pro uniform" caveat.
That covers all of those 9,000 technical jobs like the stretch that you mention.
Funny - ballplayers make it look easy out there :- ) but there is just no telling how many details they have to get right even before they throw the ball toward home plate.

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