If he’s available at #4, Danny Hultzen is a very intriguing option for the Orioles come draft day. He’s a left handed pitcher from Virginia with a good head on his shoulders (Academic All-America), which gives him a solid presence on the mound. You can see that in his ability to “pitch” which is one of his great assets. He is one of the better college arms this season and has greatly improved his stock from the times I have seen him throw since high school. An aggressive pitcher, Danny Hultzen attacks the strike zone on both right handed and left handed batters.
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Body: Solid slender muscular build, proportionate upper and lower body development, solid hip and rear. Room for growth to build on the frame, could add in ability to maintain strength and endurance late into games.
He is starting to use a greater lower body push to hit another gear in the arm. He was registering upper 80’s and sneaking low 90’s from time to time last season and I thought of him as a nice solid late rotation pitcher with the chance to be a middle rotation guy, seeing his mental makeup. The extra gear somehow appeared this spring and has turned him into a strikeout machine. He is constantly in the 91-93 mph range and hits the gun at 95 mph at times late into games. His four-seamer has some late life to it and I see why he can miss bats. He possesses very good command of the pitch and can locate it in multiple locations, which enhances its value. It looks faster in person; I think it is his rather methodical delivery that is typical of left handed pitchers and his ability to work in off-speed making the pitch more effective. Sometimes it is not only speed, but how you play off other pitches.
His breaking ball is considered a tick above major league average. It is tight and runs typical of his arm slot, producing more of a tight sweeping slider that runs into right handed hitters. He uses it effectively as a low and outside pitch to left handed hitters. His slider is a typical out pitch for him and made the Clemson lineup this spring look foolish more than once. He does not stick to this pitch all of the time and really mixes the off-speed stuff in multiple situations and multiple counts.
His changeup has late life tailing low and away from the right handed hitters and into the hand of left handed batters. As with the slider, he will throw this pitch in any count to any batter and mixes this well off the fastball. The speed changes enhance the effectiveness of the change.
He works his curveball in every so often, but I only saw it once or twice in my only encounter this spring. Seeing his arm slot, it is not your typical curve and more of a “slurve”. It is more tight break than sweeping action and generally sits in the upper 70’s. He works it into the hitters simply to give them another look and keep them honest.
Command and Control
As with most polished pitchers, his control is an asset that enhances his pitches. What he may lack in speed or movement at times, he makes up for it in that he can pin point the placement of his pitches. He tends to do a good job of keeping the ball down and would work well in any park. He works well on both sides of the plate and can work the corners with ease. The new aluminum bat development in College baseball has allowed Danny Hultzen to attack hitters instead of always pitching away from contact in previous years.
The one quick off the bat issue that might be a concern is the arm slot in the delivery. His arm angle is a bit flat and sits at about 35 degrees or 2:30 on a clock. This is a bit of an exaggeration of the ¾ delivery and typically forces pitchers to throw across their bodies, but he maintains a downhill plane. The one silver lining for Danny is that it is rather typical to see left handed pitchers throw in this fashion with success. Randy Johnson, Paul Byrd, Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, and to a lesser extent Zach Britton all have the ¾ slot delivery, the reason why left handed pitchers tend to have a natural sink in their repertoire of pitches. Danny’s is a bit more exaggerated than others, but this is a minor concern for the elbow rather than shoulder.
His arm position in the loading phase is down and slightly to first base, which takes less pressure off the shoulder. While in transition phases, he has both elbows slightly raised above the shoulder girdle. This alignment tends to place a greater amount of pressure with the chicken wing approach to the plate. This is a slight flag and careful consideration with preparation and micro-managing regiments would to minimize impact in the future.
He has a solid rotation, good tuck, and good trunk rotation which has generated a lot of “lag” over the years. This could be a part of the equation that has contributed to his increase in velocity. He generates a solid push from the lower half, with great knee flexion and a very good stride, which moves in a solid sequence with his upper body and you can really see why he generates the power that I have not seen until this season. The force in the lower half makes his effort seem smooth and maybe it can right some of the minor items, but this should still be a concern.
He should be one of the first left handed pitchers off the board in the 2011 Rule 4 draft and would fit nicely in a rotation as a #2 pitcher, and at worst a mid to late rotational arm.
This is Part 3 in a series previewing 12 potential players for the Orioles’ #4 overall selection in the 2011 draft. The full series:
1. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
2. Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
3. Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
4. Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
5. Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgie Tech
6. Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Kan.
7. Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde Academy HS, Fla.
8. Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA
9. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS, Okl.
10. George Springer, OF, Connecticut
11. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS, S. Car.
12. Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow HS, Okl.