At Virginia, Hultzen has been nothing short of spectacular, earning ACC freshman of the year honors and then being named the ACC pitcher of the year the past two seasons. He already has set schools records for victories (30) and strikeouts (356).
This season Hultzen is 10-3 with a 1.59 ERA. He also is batting .305 with 29 RBI as a part-time designated hitter when he is not pitching, leading O’Connor to remark that he believes Hultzen would be drafted in the top 10 rounds if he were a position player.
‘Other things in front of me’
Typically, scouts from the major league’s 30 teams meet with Virginia’s draft-eligible players in December to gauge their interest in turning professional and then again in the spring. Hultzen, though, declined to meet with the clubs over the winter, saying he “didn’t want the pro ball stuff to be a distraction to my goals.”
This spring, as he has gone from a likely first-rounder to a near-certain top-five pick, Hultzen has visited only with officials from the top six teams picking in the draft (the Washington Nationals pick sixth) and the scouting bureau that sends information to every club. One of the ground rules for the meetings was that Hultzen would not discuss contract terms.
“It’s pretty incredible that they drive down from hours away just to sit down for an hour,” Hultzen said.
This week, Hultzen communicated to those clubs the terms under which he would sign.
“The traditional approach probably is you play cat and mouse and you bob and weave and you do all sorts of things, but we haven’t done that,” Chris Hultzen said. “I think we have saved a lot of people a lot of time.”
While Danny Hultzen has been noncommittal about the draft and turning pro, one scout who has seen Hultzen multiple times believes such talk is nothing more than posturing for a better contract.
“There is always a concern that you meet at a middle point” during contract negotiations, the scout said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly for his club. “But I would say there is no more concern with him than anyone else.”
If necessary, the final game of the regional tournament is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, an hour before the draft begins. Hultzen is scheduled to pitch on Saturday, meaning he could be in the dugout when his name is called.
“Obviously, it’s always been a dream of mine to play pro ball and make the major leagues, but there are other things in front of me, and that’s this team,” Hultzen said, following an approach favored by O’Connor. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited about the opportunity to play pro ball, but there are other things in front of me right now.”