Mariners take Virginia lefty Hultzen with No. 2 pick

Given a chance to add another top arm to their already pitching-strong organization, the Mariners selected Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the No. 2 pick in Monday’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Hultzen, 21, was 11-3 with a 1.57 ERA in 15 starts for Virginia. The 6-foot-3 lefty was 31-5 with a 2.18 in his three-year collegiate career.

“Danny is one of the top pitchers in the draft with tremendous athletic ability,” Mariners director of Amateur Scouting Tom McNamara said. “We look forward to having him in our organization and working his way toward being part of our Major League rotation in the near future.”

The Mariners have now selected pitchers with their first pick in five of the past six drafts.

Hultzen held opposing hitters to a .189 batting average with 17 walks and 148 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings. He’s also a good enough athlete to have played designated hitter for top-ranked Virginia, with a .330 batting average and 25 RBIs this season.

He’s stolen 18 bases in 19 attempts during his college career.

Virginia advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals by beating East Carolina on Sunday. Hultzen is the ace of the Cavaliers’ staff as the two-time ACC Pitcher of teh Year.

Most analysts expected Seattle to opt for Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, though he’d suffered from shoulder problems this past season. The Mariners also passed on standout high school outfielder Bubba Starling, another risk given he’s signed a football scholarship to play quarterback at Nebraska.

“This is completely unexpected,” Hultzen told the MLB Network. “It’s a tremendous honor though. I’m very excited for it.”

The Pirates selected UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole with the first pick. Starling wound up going fifth to Kansas City, with Rendon sixth to the Nationals.

Seattle has now had the No. 2 pick two of the last three years, having selected Dustin Ackley out of North Carolina in that spot in 2009.

Picking second doesn’t guarantee a future Major League standout, but there have been plenty to come up from that spot in recent years. From 2002-06, the players picked second were B.J. Upton, Rickie Weeks, Justin Verlander and Alex Gordon.

The more recent No. 2s haven’t yet reached the big leagues, but include highly regarded prospects like Ackley and Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas.

The Mariners had only one pick in Monday’s first round and sandwich picks. They’ll have the  second pick Tuesday (62nd overall) when the Draft resumes with rounds 2-30.

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