Selected with the second overall pick in June, Danny Hultzen was touted as perhaps the most polished pitcher in the Draft. So far this year, he's living up to his reputation.
The Mariners' No. 2 prospect allowed just two hits over 6 1/3 scoreless frames and earned his first full-season win Thursday as the Double-A Jackson Generals defeated the Mississippi Braves, 2-0.
"It feels good," said Hultzen, who went 1-0 with a 1.40 ERA in the Arizona Fall League between October and November. "It's kind of an accomplishment, I guess. I'll remember this one, it's a good feeling."
Hultzen (1-2) struck out five and walked two in the outing, lowering his ERA from 4.66 to 2.81. In 16 innings this season, he has fanned 21 while issuing eight free passes.
The 22-year-old left-hander was perfect through the first 3 1/3 frames, striking out four. That ended when Mississippi's Emerson Landoni reached on a bunt single, which Hultzen fielded but threw into the outfield.
"It was probably the catcher [Jesus Sucre]'s ball and I was probably too aggressive and got after it," Hultzen said. "It was right on the line, I tried to throw it around the runner and threw it way off into the outfield. He didn't get to second or anything, but it was probably a bad decision. I should've let the catcher get that one."
The only other base knock against Hultzen came in the fifth, when Joe Leonard led off with a single through the left side. Hultzen then induced a double play off the bat of Adam Milligan before Mathew Kennelly grounded out to end the inning.
Hultzen continued cruising until the seventh. After fanning Landoni to start the frame, he issued back-to-back walks to Philip Gosselin and Ian Gac -- his only two free passes of the day -- before being replaced by Steven Hensley.
"I felt good throughout the start, but I got a little tired and didn't make the pitches," Hultzen said. "That's something I need to work on, making better pitches later in the game and cutting down on my walks."
Hensley and Brian Moran combined to allow just one baserunner in 1 2/3 frames in middle relief, while Stephen Pryor tossed a scoreless ninth en route to his fourth save of the year.
Rich Poythress provided the only scoring in the game, smacking a two-run homer in the fourth and No. 4 Mariners prospect Nick Franklin went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Franklin reached base in 11 of 12 games this year.
Thursday's contest marked the Generals' second shutout in three days and lowered their team ERA to a Southern League-leading 2.19 -- with the next-closest being the Mobile BayBears at 2.93. Along with Hultzen, Jackson features Seattle's No. 3 prospect Taijuan Walker and No. 5 prospect James Paxton in the rotation.
But even with the squad's success and his touted teammates, Hultzen doesn't get caught up in the numbers.
"Just putting our team in a position to win, that's the job of a starting pitcher," he said. "You're not out there to necessarily throw shutout innings or a complete game. Just put the team in a position to win, and that's the way I take every start."