At the University of Virginia, Danny Hultzen and his teammates had a saying: "Comfort is your enemy." At Double-A Jackson, he's beginning to stretch its limits.
The Mariners' top prospect allowed two hits and struck out eight over eight innings Friday as the Generals edged the Jacksonville Suns, 1-0.
It was Hultzen's third straight scoreless start and extended his shutout streak to 21 2/3 innings. Still, he wants to stress he hasn't grown complacent.
"We had that saying in college, 'Comfort was your enemy.' Just stay hungry, never get comfortable," the 22-year-old left-hander said. "When you get comfortable, you get lackadaisical, get away from what's been working."
Southern League opponents haven't offered anything to divert Hultzen (7-3) from what's been working. After Friday's outing, the second overall selection in last year's Draft leads the league with a 1.28 ERA and 75 strikeouts against 31 walks over 70 1/3 innings. His ERA is 40 points lower than Trevor Bauer's before the D-backs prospect was promoted to Triple-A and a full run better than Huntsville's Evan Anundsen, who ranks third.
The only challenge that may be left for Hultzen at Double-A is whether he can get his ERA below 1.00.
"Watching some of these hitters throughout the league, some of them are really, really good, so you have to be on your game," he said. "It's not that hard to stay hungry because of how good some of them are."
It's not hard to envision a scenario in which Hultzen follows Bauer to the Pacific Coast League or makes it all the way up to Seattle. For now, however, that kind of thinking is more of a distraction for MLB.com's No. 13 overall prospect.
"I haven't really thought about [a promotion] like that," he said. "I just go out and pitch, and the rest will take care of itself. I've been trying to avoid that kind of thinking.
"I feel good about how I've done, but I've been walking too many people, and that's one of the big things I need to work on."
Following Friday's game, the Generals' official Twitter referred to Hultzen as "The Incredible Hultz."
"Seen that before, had that in college," he said. "It's pretty cool to have that."
Mariners' No. 8 prospect Carter Capps, picked up his seventh save by striking out two ina perfect ninth.
Denny Almonte doubled home No. 3 prospect Nick Franklin with the game's lone run in the first inning.