Danny Hultzen and Other Tacoma Notes

It was a fairly busy sports weekend in the Seattle area, and I spent the weekend going to a few baseball games.  Sandwiched in between the Rainiers on Thursday and Mariners on Saturday was one of the biggest recruiting days in Husky football history.  I’ll hopefully get to that tomorrow.  The Mariners don’t have much to talk about aside from Munenori Kawasaki being extremely awesome, so I’ll start off recapping the weekend by writing about how my weekend started.

On Thursday, Matthew, our cousin (and loyal blog reader) Tyler, and I made the trek down to Tacoma to see the Danny Hultzen-Jamie Moyer match-up.  A trek it was.  It took us two and a half hours to get from Bellevue to Tacoma but that’s beside the point, this isn’t a traffic blog, it’s a sports blog!  Although, a traffic blog may be more entertaining than talking about the Mariners sometimes.  Anyway, we missed one of Hultzen’s innings because of traffic but caught his other 3 innings.

The future Mariner has a hunched over windup, kind of like his shoulders are slouching.  Other than that, the rest of his windup was pretty standard.  His right foot starts a little bit in front of the rubber and steps to the side, more than it steps backwards.  There’s a fairly normal leg kick and his arm comes a little higher than the 3/4’s slot.  His follow-through is fairly normal (more on that later) as well.  Here’s some video of the start.  His fastball sat at about 93 and he flashed 96 twice up on the radar gun (I don’t think the radar gun was hot or anything because Moyer was about where he has been all season and even below that at times).  We didn’t see much of his change-up because he didn’t seem to have a lot of control of it.  Maybe it was just an off night for that pitch, as it’s usually a plus pitch for him.  His slider had tons of movement, although he didn’t have plus control on that either.  It was a great strikeout pitch though.

Hultzen walked 4 guys in 4 innings during the game.  All of the walks came when Hultzen was pitching out of the stretch.  Hultzen often switched his between a slide-step and a high leg kick when runners were on first base.  Based on the video, I think he’s a little better when he’s not using the slide-step.  Maybe he doesn’t have a good pick-off move (he didn’t use one, that I recall) but a good amount of lefties get away with not using a slide-step.  His control was definitely a problem out of the stretch.

Another problem Hultzen seemed to have was finishing his pitches.  Matthew picked up on it right away, and after watching the video I have to agree with him.  In the second inning, when Danny got into some trouble, he seemed to really struggle with this.  By not finishing his pitch, I mean to say that his leg and arm didn’t follow through as much as they usually do.  To use the famous phrase, he was trying to “aim it and not throw it.”  It was especially apparent on off-speed pitches (this gave the pitch away to some hitters) but there were a few fastballs where it seemed to be a problem as well.

All in all, Danny was good.  There weren’t many hard hit balls, the issue was strictly control.  He has great stuff and will succeed.  He does have to work through this control issue.  I don’t know if the mechanical things I mentioned are a constant problem or just an abnormality.  If anyone goes to see him in Tacoma again (he’ll pitch again on Tuesday) look for what I mentioned and let us know.

I’ve got a few more thoughts on Nick Franklin, Triunfel, and Peguero after the jump.  Bullet holes for you.

  • Nick Franklin, the Mariners top hitting prospect, started at second base and looked fine defensively.  We all hope he can play shortstop but he’s been splitting time between there and 2nd in Tacoma with Triunfel.  I didn’t see anything that made me think he couldn’t handle shortstop and he looked athletic.  As for hitting, he hit from the right-side and hit a couple of balls hard.  He struck out his first time up but ended up with a triple down the right-field line.  There has been a lot of talk about how he should give up on hitting right-handed.  His splits point to that being a good idea, but he looked okay to me up there.  He had a little more of a compact, line drive stroke from the right side.  Left-handed the ball jumped off his bat and it seemed like he has a ton of power coming from his wiry build.  One game is not enough evidence to make a decision but I wouldn’t give up hope on his right-handed hitting quite yet.
  • Carlos Triunfel was bad at short-stop.  I counted about three mis-plays.  He looked bad at the plate as well.  He was completely overwhelmed by Jamie Moyer’s change-up and seemed to be lunging at pitches.  Triunfel had terrible walk-up music and would probably be better if he changed it.  He also almost killed the three of us with a foul ball.  Not a good first impression, Carlos.
  • Carlos Peguero walked twice!  In the same game!  It was weird.  He probably could have walked about 4 times though, as he was constantly chasing pitches in his other at-bats and not making contact with the ball.  Watching Carlos Peguero in AAA is fun and about as entertaining as it gets.  Watching Carlos Peguero in the MLB is one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had with the Mariners, which is saying a lot.  Being a fan is strange.
  • I didn’t get much of a read on Vinnie Catricala.  He didn’t really hit the ball hard or do anything of note.  He didn’t look like the hitting star I’ve heard about but he hasn’t hit very well this year.
  • On a final note, I just wanted to say that the renovations made at Cheney Stadium are beautiful.  It’s a really beautiful minor league park.  It was a fun atmosphere, even though the game was a blow-out, as people came out to see Moyer (who looked like, well, Jamie Moyer) and Hultzen.  If you’re in the area, go to the stadium and check it out.

Andrew

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