I watched Danny Hultzen pitch six innings in Virginia's 7-2 victory over Florida State to win the ACC baseball tournament yesterday. He allowed wo runs on six hits in six innings, with five strikeouts, one walk, a hit batter and a long home run (only the third the's given up all season). The end result was fine. But Hultzen seemed to struggle all the way.
Hultzen's delivery is peculiar: he starts from a strange-looking crouch, straightens up quickly, then moves through a herky-jerky motion that seems all arm and especially all elbow. (I am not a scout and am in no way qualified to be delivering definitive judgments.)
The on-screen radar gun seemed to show him sitting in the high 80's, but he can definitely crank it up - to 93-94 in a couple of instances, and once to 100 though I'm not sure I believe it. He threw from the right side of the rubber. He also served as the DH, going 0-for-2 with a walk.
He seemed to rack up a lot of pitches, and had a lot of trouble locating his pitches. The broadcasters from CSN noted that he seemed to be running out of steam at the end of a season in which he's pitched more innings than any before. After six he was gone; UVA was ahead, and the Coach may be trying to save him for the NCAA Tournament. Honestly, his mound opponent, Hunter Scantling, looked better to me. He was a big guy, 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, sort of a right-handed C.C.Sabathia. Easier motion, not quite as much steam, but way lower pitch counts. Scantling gave up two bombs in old Durham Bulls park, a bandbox with a 302-foot left field line and a 30-foot wall. Neither Scanting nor Hultzen made the All-Tournament team.
I've been kind of pulling for Hultzen. He seems to be a high-character young man, and I like UVA's baseball program. Watching this game makes me think Neal Huntington's job is harder than it looks. I still think Hultzen is worthy of consideration as the Bucs' No. 1 pick (worried about Anthony Rendon's injuries and Gerrit Cole's overuse/up-and-down effectiveness) but something about watching Hultzen pitch yesterday made me think of Tim Alderson's unorthodox delivery and the temptation some might have to 'change' or 'improve' it.