M's Don't Want To Rush Hultzen
SEATTLE — Danny Hultzen, taken second in the 2011 draft by the Mariners last June, has not pitched in the minor leagues yet.
The lefthander's only pro experience came in the Arizona Fall League, where he pitched well enough that he started in the AFL Rising Stars Game.
And there is a good chance that Hultzen's time in the minor leagues won't be extensive. He headed to spring training in Peoria, Ariz., as one of several rookies with no big league experience who will get long looks in major league camp, joining lefty James Paxton and righthander Taijuan Walker.
"There is no concrete timetable," general manager Jack Zduriencik said in looking forward to Hultzen's first spring training camp. "As an organization, we're going to be realistic and cautious. We're not expecting Mike Leake, but you never know, either."
Leake was a first-round pick in 2009, pitched in the AFL, then bypassed the minor leagues by making the Reds' roster.
The Mariners rotation is a little crowded after the signings of Hisashi Iwakuma and Kevin Millwood and the acquisition of Hector Noesi, but Hultzen will get the opportunity to show himself this spring. The 22-year-old out of Virginia made it clear he's not planning on a long stay in the minors.
"As soon as possible," Hultzen said at the Mariners' fan fest when asked when he hoped to be in a Seattle uniform. "It's hard to put a timetable on it, but I think it is everybody's goal to get here as soon as possible."
Hultzen throws his fastball in the 91-94 mph range with a good slider and changeup.
"Every player is different, whether emotionally, physically or experience-wise," Zduriencik said. "You don't know until they toe the rubber. We're excited about seeing him."
• Catcher Jesus Montero, picked up from the Yankees in the Michael Pineda trade, will get lots of at-bats, but he doesn't figure to start nearly as much behind the plate as veteran Miguel Olivo. "Miguel is still our catcher," manager Eric Wedge said. "With Jesus, the most important thing for me right now is to make sure he gets everyday at-bats."
• Erstwhile third baseman Vinnie Catricala is coming to spring training with the idea that he'll get most of his work in left field. The Mariners like his power (he hit .349/.421/.601 last year between high Class A and Double-A) and think he'll be a bigger asset if he can play several positions.