This feature first appeared in the July 2011 issue of The Grand Salami.
By Tim Powell
On June 6th, the Mariners selected 6’3” left-hander Danny Hultzen, a junior from the University of Virginia, with the second overall pick in this year’s amateur draft. Hultzen, 21, has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year in each of the last two years and held opposing hitters to a .189 average this year. His pitching coach at Virginia, Karl Kuhn, says Hultzen has “a Greg Maddux demeanor and a Randy Johnson arm.” Sounds pretty good to us. The Grand Salami caught up with Hult zen for a brief chat shortly after the draft.
GRAND SALAMI: Most draft experts had you being picked in the first five selections of this year’s draft. Was it a big surprise being picked second overall by the Mariners?
DANNY HULTZEN: I was completely shocked I was picked there. I was kind of expecting to wait a little longer, but I’m very, very excited.
GS: Had you talked much with the Mariners in the weeks leading up to the draft?
HULTZEN: Not really. I had talked to [Mariners scouting director] Tom McNamara a few weeks before the draft, but it was real casual.
GS: You had a lot of scouts at your games this year. What was it like pitching with the scouts in the stands?
HULTZEN: You’ve just got to go out there and be yourself. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. I saw [the scouts] with their radar guns. It was a little intimidating at first, but you eventually realize that it’s cool that they’re there. They aren’t there to put pressure on you or anything. As it happens more and more often you kind of get used to it and take it as an honor that they’re there to watch you play baseball.
GS: So you’ve gotten used to all the extra attention?
HULTZEN: I just go out there and pitch my game, I’m not worried about who’s in the stands. If the guys like me then that’s great but I’m not there to pitch for them, I’m there to pitch for my team.
GS: What have you done to improve your pitching during your time at Virginia?
HULTZEN: You need to be able to throw different pitches for strikes and have command of different types of pitches. That’s what I have tried to work on these last couple of years, it’s helped me change a lot and it has helped our team succeed.
GS: What big league pitchers do you like to watch?
HULTZEN: Whenever I turn the TV on, if a left-handed pitcher is going, I look to see what they do and see what makes them good. I admire a guy like Cliff Lee and I really like watching Andy Pettitte pitch, just
his competitive nature. I don’t necessarily try to emulate guys but I definitely pick up on things that they do and see what makes them good.