Hultzen Turns In Sizzling First Half For Mariners

Best Player: The Mariners had big hopes for lefthander Danny Hultzen when they chose him out of Virginia with the second overall pick in last year's draft, and he hasn't disappointed. Hultzen, an Arizona Fall League all-star in his first pro experience in 2011, yielded five runs this spring in his first minor league start with Double-A Jackson. He went on to give up just five earned runs in his next dozen starts before being named to the Southern League all-star game and the Futures Game. Along the way, he posted an 8-3, 1.19 record with 79 strikeouts and 32 walks in 75 innings before earning a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. Hultzen still has some issues with his control, but an above-average fastball and a slider that moves around the strike zone have made him extremely tough to hit.

Biggest Leap Forward: Coming into this season, Stephen Pryor had thrown just 23 innings above Class A, so a natural progression would have been for him to start the season with Jackson and perhaps move to Tacoma by year's end.

He wasn't having any of that. Stephen Pryor, the Mariners' fifth-round pick in 2010 out of Cleveland State, beat up on Double-A hitters to the tune of a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings with a high-velocity fastball. The righthander's fastball would be tough enough on hitters if it was just a matter of velocity, but it moves through the strike zone in a way hitters have yet to figure out. The 22-year-old simply crushed Triple-A hitters after a promotion to Tacoma, tossing 12 scoreless innings in nine relief appearances, before being pushed up to Seattle.

Biggest Disappointment: Seattle signed Carlos Triunfel six years ago out of the Dominican Republic with the hope that he'd be their next great middle infielder.
It hasn't happened yet.

Some 74 games into his first full season at Tacoma, the 22-year-old was struggling with a .244/.304/.373 average and six homers. Those numbers aren't terrible, but if Triunfel, who lost the 2009 season to a fractured ankle, had been ready, there might have been a chance for him in Seattle. It's not too late for Triunfel to reemerge as a prospect, but he's going to need to show more than he has this year to do it.


• Making the jump from Jackson to Tacoma with Hultzen was shortstop Nick Franklin, the team's first-round pick (27th overall) out of a Florida high school in the 2009 draft. Franklin hit .322/.394/.502 in Jackson before getting off to an 8-for-42 start in Tacoma.

• Righthander Seon Gi Kim, a 20-year-old signed out of Korea in 2009, struck out 13 over six no-hit innings for short-season Everett on June 23, earning himself a promotion to low Class A Clinton.