No. 2 overall pick Hultzen debuts in AFL
Mariners prospect strikes out two in two innings for Javelinas
Danny Hultzen's professional debut became a bit of an afterthought following a ninth inning that featured seven runs and two lead changes.
Hultzen, selected No. 2 overall by the Mariners in this year's Draft, allowed one run on three hits and a walk in his Arizona Fall League debut Friday as the Peoria Javelinas dropped a 6-5 decision to the Surprise Saguaros.
"It was awesome, really exciting," Hultzen said. "I had the nerves, too, out there a bit. I haven't pitched in a while, but it felt good to be out there again."
Hultzen, the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year, threw five fastballs -- all over 91 mph -- to retire Marlins prospect Kevin Mattison for his first out. Former first-round picks Christian Colon (Royals) and Tim Beckham (Rays) followed with back-to-back singles, but Hultzen escaped when he got Mike Olt (Rangers) to bounce into a double play.
Hultzen's second inning got off to a rocky start when Braves prospect Joey Terdoslavich (Braves), who smacked a Carolina League-record 52 doubles this season, hit a fly ball that left fielder Jaff Decker (Padres) lost in the sun for a double. Hultzen uncorked consecutive wild pitches as Terdoslavich scored Surprise's first run.
Rays' 2011 first-rounder Mikie Mahtook walked and stole second, but the 21-year-old left-hander finally settled down and struck out Christian Bethancourt (Braves) and Ryan Strausborger (Rangers) before getting Tyler Bortnick (Rays) to line out.
"I had pretty good command of the fastball and slider," said Hultzen, who threw 42 pitches. "I fell behind some hitters but was able to come back after that and get out of some jams. I need to be more consistent with everything. You fall behind with these guys and they'll punish you for it. It's definitely something I have to get better at."
Brewers prospect Scooter Gennett hit a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth off J.J. Hoover (Braves) to get Hultzen off the hook. But the Saguaros answered in the bottom of the inning. Mattison tied it with a two-run homer and Mahtook won it with a two-out RBI single.
Hoover (1-0) got the win after yielding Gennett's blast and retiring two batters.
Santo Manzanillo (Brewers) took the loss after surrendering three runs -- one earned -- on two hits and two walks in the ninth.
"It was pretty crazy," Hultzen said. "We got a 3-2, two-out grand slam from one of the smaller guys on our team, then had a talent like Manzanillo lighting up the radar gun. It doesn't always mean success, but he'll bounce back. But that was a crazy inning."
The Mariners have big hopes for their southpaw, who signed just before the deadline this summer. General manager Jack Zduriencik said Hultzen will get a chance to prove himself between now and Spring Training.
"We'll give Danny a shot right off the bat to see if he can make the big league club or not," Zduriencik said in August.
For now, however, Hultzen is just trying to get acclimated to the daily routine of pro ball.
"It reminds me a lot of my freshman year of college -- you're coming out of high school and playing the best high school players in the area. And now you're in pro ball and facing the best hitters in the country," he said. "I'm kind of getting used to that whole atmosphere and competitiveness, getting acquainted with it again."
David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.