Mariners’ Hultzen makes spring training debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Danny Hultzen gave the Seattle Mariners a reminder of why they made him their top pick in the draft last year.

The left-handed Hultzen, the No. 2 overall selection, tossed two scoreless innings while allowing one hit and a walk in his Mariners spring training debut as Seattle had a 7-1 split-squad victory over Arizona on Saturday.

“It was a lot of fun. Awesome atmosphere and pitching against major leaguers was a lot of fun,” Hultzen said. “I was pumped and coming in with all the lights on. It was cool and if you look at the scoreboard, we only gave up one run and that was pretty much all the younger guys.”

The game featured Seattle’s top three prospects, including Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton.

Hultzen was originally drafted out of high school by the Diamondbacks in the 10th round of the 2008 draft. Arizona offered the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hultzen a big contract, but he opted to attend the University of Virginia. With Hultzen anchoring their rotation, the Cavaliers reached the College World Series twice and set school records for most career wins (32) and career strikeouts (395).

After going No. 2 in the draft this time around, Hultzen signed a five-year, $8.5 million contract with Seattle, including a $6.35 million dollar signing bonus. The 22-year-old performed well in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1.40 ERA in six starts.

Hultzen, Walker and Paxton all have a chance of making the club’s opening day roster, but will most likely be sent to the minors for more seasoning.

“I thought they all handled themselves well out there,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “It was great experience for all of them. This was more about breaking them in and giving them the experience out here, in a spring training big league game and everything that goes with that. We are not in a hurry with any of them right now. We just want to make sure they gain the experience and get everything they can out of each and every day out here.”

Erasmo Ramirez, another of the Mariners’ top pitching prospects, started the game and gave up just two hits in three scoreless innings. The 19-year-old Walker struck out two in an inning, and Paxton surrendered a run in his lone frame.

Jesus Montero, acquired during the offseason in a trade with the Yankees for pitcher Michael Pineda and is considered one of the top young hitters in the majors, had three RBI — as did Munenori Kawasaki. Mike Carp added three hits.

Diamondbacks ace Ian Kennedy, whose Cactus League debut was cut short when a swarm of bees invaded Salt River Field last Saturday, struggled while allowing four runs, six hits and hit a batter, while striking out three in three innings.

“You just kind of get your work in for the second outing,” Kennedy said. “They were swinging early, that’s for sure. I was just trying to get my work in, so I had to throw a little more offspeed stuff at the end. Location is really more important for me in the second outing.”

Notes: The Diamondbacks starting pitcher Josh Collmenter will throw a bullpen session Sunday and, if all goes well, he will make his spring training debut Wednesday. Collmenter missed his first scheduled start, last Friday because of soreness in his right arm. … The game was Arizona’s second sellout in their first four home games. … In the Mariners’ other split-squad game Saturday, the team tied the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-5. Seattle has recorded at least one tie in five straight spring training campaigns, and nine of their last 10.

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