Left-hander Danny Hultzen, one of the top prospects in the Seattle Mariners system and among the top left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, underwent shoulder surgery on Tuesday morning to repair a partially torn rotator cuff and labrum. No formal timetable has been set for his return, but he’s unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2014 season.
The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews, according to MLB.com’s Greg Johns.
Hultzen was the 2nd overall pick in the 2011 Draft, taken just behind Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Discomfort kept off the mound for much of the 2013 season, limiting Hultzen to just 7 starts on the year (six at Triple-A Tacoma, one with Rookie League Arizona) in which he threw just 35.2 IP. He looked impressive in those outings – going 5-1 with a 2.02 ERA, 0.813 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9 – but it was far from the workload that the Mariners were hoping to see their young hurler get through over the course of the season, purely from a developmental standpoint.
Hultzen’s 2013 was essentially a lost season. Now, with his return uncertain, it’s tough to gauge when he’ll be able to make an impact on a Mariners team desperate to install some young pitching alongside the top of their starting rotation. Felix Hernandez and Hiwasashi Iwakuma give the team a great 1-2 punch atop the rotation and there were conceivable hopes that the team could slide in Hultzen, Taijuan Walker, and James Paxton (the latter two of whom did make brief appearances with the club this past season and should see additional opportunities in 2014) into the mix before long. Hultzen’s set back comes at an inopportune time for everyone involved.