Long-lost former second-overall draft pick Danny Hultzen has been trying to reestablish himself as a relief pitcher with the Cubs. Yesterday marked an important milestone in that effort, as he was formally activated for the first time at the organization’s top affiliate.
Hultzen had already been in uniform at Triple-A Iowa, but was technically operating in a rehab capacity. His initial showing has been rather promising, as he’s now through 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball having recorded six strikeouts while allowing only a pair of baserunners (one hit, one walk).
Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein has acknowledged that hurdles remain for Hultzen to get a shot at the majors, but indicates he’s seen internally as having a real chance. With the Chicago pen in need of depth down the stretch, particularly from the left side, Hultzen suddenly seems to be an interesting option.
Now 29 years of age, Hultzen’s dash towards the majors was halted back in 2013, when he impressed at Triple-A but ended up blowing out his arm by trying to pitch through injuries. Hultzen discussed his collapse and quiet reengagement with the game in a great interview with Dillon Mullan of the Washington Post. While he did appear on the bump last year in the Cubs system, the outcome remained entirely uncertain. This year’s increasingly eye-opening showing has still made for quite a pleasant surprise.