Danny Hultzen, one of the “Big Three” young pitchers hailed as a cornerstone of the Mariners organization, was designated for assignment Friday as the club prepared its roster for the Rule 5 draft Friday. The Mariners added newly acquired OF Boog Powell as well as INF/OF Patrick Kivlehan to fill the 40-man protected roster.
Hultzen, 25, has had shoulder surgery and never lived up to the promise of his selection as the No. 2 overall draft pick in the 2011 draft. Injuries have also compromised James Paxton, leaving Taijuan Walker as the lone significant contributor from former GM Jack Zduriencik’s prized trio.
Hultzen was out of minor league options, so there’s a possibility, given his injury problems, that he could clear waivers and and be given an outright assignment to the Mariners minor league system.
The Mariners thought Hultzen’s troubles were behind him when he had a solid spring training following rehab from a 2013 labrum and rotator cuff surgery that cost him all of 2014. But after three starts in Class AA, he was shut down after developing soreness and fatigue. A rehab attempt during summer instructional league also failed.
Listed as a top-20 pick out of the University of Virginia by most scouting services, Hultzen has not pitched for the Mariners and had 41 career minor league starts. Selected behind Hultzen in the first round were three who became All-Stars: RHPs Sonny Gray and Jose Fernandez and SS Joe Panik, plus well-regarded Astros OF George Springer.