Photo: Virginia

50 in 50: Danny Hultzen

Draft : : Top Prospects
       
Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Danny Hultzen
LHP / Virginia

Bats-Throws:                L-L
Height/Weight:             6-3/200
Hometown:                   Bethesda, Md.
Previously Drafted:       Diamondbacks ’08 (10)
Birthdate:                     Sept. 8, 1990.

SCOUTING PROFILE: Hultzen rejected a reported seven-figure signing bonus in 2008 out of a Washington, D.C., prep school, and has consistently been one of the best all-around players in his college class in three years at Virginia. He went a combined 20-2, 2.50 on the mound as a freshman and sophomore, earning Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher-of-the-year honors in 2010, while also seeing extensive time at first base or in a DH role. But it wasn’t until this spring that Hultzen truly stamped himself as an elite prospect. He significantly enhanced his draft worth—from projected late first-round pick in the fall to early first-round pick—by jumping his fastball velocity consistently 3-4 mph into the mid-90s, while also improving the command of both his secondary pitches, a slider and changeup. In the process, Hultzen has made himself a legitimate candidate for national college player of the year. He has been a force for No. 1-ranked Virginia both on the mound (8-1, 1.31, 69 IP/11 BB/104 SO) and at the plate (.321-1-26, mostly as a DH). Though he has pro potential on both sides of the ball, scouts see Hultzen as a pitcher only. He is extremely polished and has exquisite command of all his pitches. He may have the most-advanced sense of pitchability of any arm in the college ranks, and would probably rank as an early favorite to reach the big leagues first from the draft class of 2011—and could well be there later this summer if he signs expeditiously. Hultzen breezed through his first eight decisions this spring, before being uncustomarily roughed up for six runs in the sixth inning in his most recent outing against North Carolina State, while suffering his first setback of 2011. Though Hultzen was not at his best against the Wolfpack, his fastball sat at 92-93 mph early on with good life. Earlier this season in a shutdown game against Georgia Tech, Hultzen peaked at 96. His 80-82 mph changeup has been a dominant pitch throughout the spring as he does an excellent job of maintaining arm speed throughout his delivery. He also showed his fierce competitiveness against N.C. State by battling out of several jams. For all the improvement that Hultzen has shown from his sophomore to his junior year, it doesn’t compare to the improvement he demonstrated between his junior and senior seasons at St. Albans High. Prior to posting a tidy 11-0, 0.82 record with 13 walks and 127 strikeouts in 66 innings as a prep senior, Hultzen was a soft-tossing lefty with good pitchability but unknown to even area scouts. Hultzen has a masterful sense of timing, however, and just like he added significant velocity (up to 10 mph) heading into his draft year out of high school, he has made another quantum leap heading into his draft year at Virginia. Almost overnight, he has blossomed again into one of the best lefthanded pitching prospects in the country--only this time the stakes for his services are much higher than they were three years ago.

Projected Draft Position: First round / top 5 picks.

--ALLAN SIMPSON

Perfect Game Events Attended

    2005 WWBA 15U National Championship
    2005 WWBA 16U National Championship
    2006 WWBA 18U/06 Grad. National Championship
    2007 WWBA 2007 Grads or 18u National Championship
    2007 WWBA 2008 Grads or 17u National Championship
    2007 WWBA World Championship

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