Danny Hultzen, one of the Seattle Mariners’ top pitching prospects, underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the labrum and a partially torn rotator cuff of his left shoulder.
The Mariners have set no timetable for his recovery, however it would appear that the young left-hander will miss the majority of the 2014 season, if not all of it. Shoulder injuries for pitchers have generally been much more problematic than elbow injuries, which are repaired with the commonly known Tommy-John procedure and usually allow pitchers to come back stronger a year or so after the surgery.
Hultzen, 23, was selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft as a junior from the University of Virginia, following top pick Gerrit Cole who was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was ranked as the No. 18 prospect in baseball by MLB.com entering the season, then slid to No. 23 after making just four starts in April before being sidelined with soreness in his shoulder.
In those four starts, Hultzen pitched brilliantly, appearing to put the struggles of a Triple-A debut behind him. He was 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA, 25 strikeouts and six walks over 22 2/3 innings.
“This is very unfortunate for Danny and his family, but we have nothing but high hopes for a good recovery and rehab,” said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik in a statement. “Danny is a tireless worker and will do everything he can to get back on the mound to start competing again.”
The surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews, one of the premier orthopedic specialists in the country, in Pensacola, Fla.
The Mariners had hoped that refining his delivery would eliminate the strain on the shoulder that Hultzen was feeling after four April starts and one in early July. After resting for nearly two months, Hultzen pitched two innings for Tacoma Sept. 1, before heading over to Arizona to prepare for a stint in the Arizona Fall League.
But it was there that he began feeling discomfort again and it was determined that surgery would be needed.
Hultzen had been projected to be the first young pitcher of what was regarded as the best group of young pitchers in the majors to debut with the club. Instead, Brandon Maurer made the Mariners 2013 Opening Day rotation and was later followed by Tacoma teammates Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.
Clearly, Hultzen was, and will remain, a big part of the Mariners plans going forward. The impact of his injury, not uncommon for organizations to see occur amongst their stable of pitching, will be lessened thanks to the progress of the aforementioned pitchers as well as prospects like Edwin Diaz, Victor Sanchez and Tyler Pike who are climbing the Mariners system just as Hultzen did before them.
-Anthony Dion, 1090 The Fan
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