Somewhere between flying cars and self-drying jackets lies the future and part of that view into what dreams may come are two of the most prized pitching prospects in baseball: Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen.
The two players were named today to the MLB Futures Game to represent the U.S. at All-Star weekend in Kansas City.
It wasn’t long ago that the Seattle Mariners farm system lacked elite talent and classified among the least-exciting in baseball, but since Jack Zduriencik and company took over, the depth and quality of prospects has only gotten better and better, culminating in these two starting pitchers putting their names among the best pitchers in the world that aren’t in the majors yet.
Taijuan Walker, not yet 20 years old, was considered a major unknown and a major project when Seattle drafted him in the supplemental first round of the 2010 draft. Two years later he is finding himself on many lists for “the top 10 prospects in baseball” after showing dominance against much older competition. This season in AA (he’s the youngest pitcher there) he has posted a 4-3 record, 3.79 ERA, 57 innings, 59 K/23 BB and a .249 average against.
Walker has struggled in June, allowing 13 ER in 12.2 innings, but growing pains should be expected for any teenager that has advanced so quickly and the combination of his high-90s fastball and devastating curve still make scouts drool over the possibilities of a pitcher who has yet to come close to reaching his full potential.
Many people feel that Danny Hultzen has reached most of his full potential, but if that’s the case, we should be perfectly fine with it since he’s been the most dominating pitcher in the minor leagues this season, arguably.
Hulzten faced 290 batters in AA and allowed 38 hits, only eight of which went for extra bases. He induced 50% groundballs and struck out 27.2% of batters faced while posting an ERA of 1.19 in 75.1 innings. Batters are hitting just .151 against Hultzen.
Over his last seven starts for the AA Jackson Generals, Hultzen pitched 44.2 innings, allowed 2 ER, and gave up 23 hits. After struggling with control in early May, Hultzen walked just 9 batters in his last 37.2 inning and struck out 44. He’ll begin his test against AAA hitters on Saturday and then face the best prospects the world has to offer at the July 8th Futures Game in Kansas City right next to his buddy Taijuan Walker again.
And then hopefully one day in the future, they can both pitch right next to King Felix for a very long time.