Danny Hultzen made his AAA debut on Thursday and there was no way I was missing it. After a rough AAA debut in Colorado, I was really hoping to see a strong start from Hultzen. Jack Zduriencik and Tom McNamara were both in attendance to see their top 2011 draftee. While Hultzen’s start was a little shaky, we defiantly saw the potential that Hultzen brings. Check out my game report and scouting report following the break.
Hultzen opened the game with a very good looking first inning. He threw four straight fastballs to Adeiny Hechavarria to open the game, striking him out on number four. He would also strike out the next batter, Anthony Gose. He got Gose on a sweeping slider, getting Gose to chase it out of the zone. The next batter flew out and Hultzen needed only 10 pitches to get through the first. His fastball sat at 92-93 in the first.
After a very efficient first inning, Hultzen seemed to have lost his command in the second. He gave up a base hit to lead off the inning and followed that up with a walk. He was able to get strike the next batter out but after that he allowed two more walks, bringing in a run. He was able to get the following two batters out, getting himself out of the jam. He needed 32 pitches that inning, 16 of which were balls. He threw a heavy diet of fastballs but just couldn’t seem to find his spot like he did in the first.
Hultzen did not get into as much trouble in the third, but still threw a lot of pitches. He lead off the inning with a strikeout but followed that up by allowing a base hit. He was able to get a fly out following that and another strikeout to end the inning. He was up to 67 pitches following the third.
The fourth would be Hultzen’s final inning and again was a high pitch inning. He was able to get a strikeout to lead off the inning. He followed that up with a base hit and then a walk but was able to get out of the inning getting a fly out and then a ground out. The final line for Hultzen on the day was 4IP 1ER 3H 4BB and 6K. He threw 90 pitches, 52 of which were strikes. Hultzen had mixed results on the evening but now for the scouting report.
Hultzen’s fastball really impressed me with the movement it had on it. It had arm side tail and some sink to it, especially down in the zone. He sat about 91-93 and cranked it up a few times to hit 95 and he hit 96 once or twice. He also held the velocity well late into the game going 94-96-91-93 with his last four pitches of his start. His fastball is an above average to plus pitch and you have to like the velocity he brings coming form the left side. He flashed moments were he really located the fastball well but he needs to work on doing it on a more consistent basis. I think it could really be a useful pitch tailing away from righties and back dooring lefties.
All the reports I’ve read label Hultzen’s change as his best secondary pitch. He did not throw it a whole lot in his start but from what I saw, it looks to be an above average pitch. It has arm side fade with some sink to it. The pitch sits about 80-83 MPH. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of the pitch in his next outing.
His slider impressed me and he threw more than I expected he would. It sat about 75-80 with good bite. It swept across the zone and had some downward movement. At times it would be a little slurvy, having more downward break but the pitch was promising all night long. I thought it was really useful when he threw it to left handed batters, starting in the zone and sweeping off the plate away, getting swings and misses.
Despite spotty command on the evening, Hultzen showed promise and polish. He had a consistent release point and good deception on his pitches. He has all the makings to be a good number two starter with a high floor. I think we could see him in the rotation this year, maybe around August or September. Come 2013, I see him breaking camp in the rotation. Hultzen is scheduled to pitch again July 3rd and I hope to be there as well as each of his AAA home starts from here on out.