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Danny Hultzen impresses in split-squad game

By Shannon Drayer

Sorry for the lack of posts but not having a laptop has slowed me down a bit. Producer/engineer extraordinaire Kevin Cremin was kind enough to let me use his computer for a couple of minutes so I could give you a quick update of the day’s news.

Busy day at that. The first split-squad day of the the spring. I traveled to Goodyear, Ariz. to see the Mariners’ B team take on the Reds’ B team. Of interest were the pitchers. Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez were all scheduled to pitch two innings. Eric Wedge, Carl Willis, Jack Zduriencik, Ted Simmons and a number of other Mariners officials were on hand to watch the youngsters.

Walker started the game, and while he didn’t quite have the electric stuff we have seen from him in the intrasquad games he did pitch two scoreless innings.

Hultzen followed and was impressive. He retired the first batter he faced, then back-to-back errors by Nick Franklin (playing second) put runners on second and third. The next batter walked, not intentionally, but Hultzen did tell me after the game that maybe it was in his mind that it would be OK if he put him on and went for the double play.

Then came the impressive stuff. Seven pitches, all fastballs and two strikeouts. You could just see Hultzen bear down when the bases were loaded. He all-out challenged them, climbing the ladder as he went. He told me after that he gauges the hitters’ swings, looks at their reactions and works off that pitch-to-pitch. The fastball was his weapon of choice in that situation and it was effective. I did get a look at a scout’s radar gun in the second inning Hultzen pitched and it looked like he was sitting 93-94 mph most of the time.

Ramirez followed and he was impressive in a more economical way, needing just 16 pitches to get through his two innings. Then came Paxton, who struggled while going just 1 2/3 innings and giving up three runs and six hits with one strikeout. Again, I looked at the scout’s gun and saw that his fastball velocity was down, 90-93. His breaking ball, however, came in at 70-77. He said he felt OK out there, just didn’t have his best stuff.

Quick note before Cremin takes the laptop away: Cactus League Report comes your way at 7 p.m. PT. Guests will include Eric Wedge, Brendan Ryan, Adam Moore (subbing for Jesus Montero, who went home sick today), Vinnie Catricala, Carl Willis, Nick Franklin, Jay Buhner and Greg Johns from MLB.com.

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