Hulzen struggles in AAA debut, but no reason to panic

The good news for Danny Hultzen fans is that he is averaging 9 strikeouts per game in AAA. The bad news is that his three strikeouts came in three innings, as the left-handed pitcher, the Mariners number one pick last season, was bombed by Colorado Springs in his AAA debut.

Besides the three strikeouts in the three innings, he walked five, gave up five hits, and five earned runs. He threw 81 pitches, only 41 for strikes. Oh the other six outs, four were ground outs and two were fly balls.

It is clear that he was nervous, perhaps feeling the pressure of moving up the ladder, one step away from Safeco and the Mariners dugout. But not to worry or panic. Even if he dazzled, blowing hitters away like he did in AA Jackson, no one  should not get caught up in how well he does, or how poorly. If he stays in AAA until late July before his Mariner debut, or if he is eventually sent back to Jackson, what is important is his development for when he is ready.

Mariners clubhouse

Mariners clubhouse (Photo credit: Frank Fujimoto)

How he bounces back will be important. Can he put the Colorado game behind him? Will he relax now that the debut game is out of the way? Or will he let it get into his head?

It does not matter what level you are at, you must trust your ability. The hitters in AAA are better than AA, but you pitch the same way you have been. As long as he can relax and pitch his game, trusting himself, not worried about who he is facing, he will be fine. Easier said then done of course.

The other player called up from Jackson, Nick Franklin, who is playing both second base and shortstop, is 3-11 in three games, with 2 doubles, 2 rbis. But he has struck out seven of his eleven at bats, so he is struggling with AAA pitching.

A starting pitcher who was called up from Jackson earlier in the season, Andrew  Carraway in eight starts  is 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA. Not a strikeout pitcher-28 in 48 innings-he has walked 14, and allowed 5 home runs.

The pressure gets more intense with each rung of the ladder. I hope they relax and just play ball.


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