Mariners agree with No. 2 overall pick Hultzen
Seattle also comes to terms with three others before deadline
SEATTLE -- It's official: Danny Hultzen is a Seattle Mariner.
Just minutes before Monday's 9 p.m. PT deadline, the Mariners agreed to terms with Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 Draft.
The left-handed ace from Virginia and 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year inked a five-year, $8.5 million deal and signed a $6.35 million bonus with a maximum value of $10.6 million, Baseball America reported. The $8.5 million is the fifth-largest Draft guarantee in history. Major League Baseball's recommended bonus guideline for the No. 2 slot was $3.25 million.
"It went down to the midnight hour, as a lot of these do," said Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik. "At the end, I think he's very excited about becoming a Seattle Mariner, and we are as well."
Hultzen, who would have entered his senior year at Virginia, signed a Major League contract. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Mariners released reliever Chris Ray.
"We'll give Danny a shot right off the bat to see if he can make the big league club or not," Zduriencik said.
Seattle also came to terms with its second pick (62nd overall), Clemson shortstop Brad Miller, who picked up an equal accolade as the 2011 ACC Player of the Year. He batted .395, had 50 RBIs and hit five home runs. Miller will report to Class A Clinton.
Texas State pitcher Carson Smith, an eighth-round selection, also signed. The 6-foot-6 Smith repeated as the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year and his fastball has been clocked at 98 mph.
Ninth-round selection Cavan Cohoes, a shortstop out of Patch High School in Stuttgart, Germany, came to terms before Monday's deadline as well.
When it was all said and done, Seattle signed 43 of the 51 players selected in June's First-Year Player Draft, including 10 of its first 11 picks.
Hultzen sent a text to Tom McNamara, the Mariners' director of amateur scouting, minutes after the deal was signed.
"Thank you.," it read. "Can't wait to get started."
McNamara spent last Friday with Hultzen, who was in town to get his physical, and was asked if he ever worried that Seattle might lose out on the No. 2 overall pick by not coming to terms before Monday's deadline.
"I spent Friday with him and asked him if he wanted to be Seattle Mariner. He said he did," McNamara said. "We'll leave it at that."
The last-minute deal wasn't out of the ordinary, especially considering the fact that with just one hour until the deadline, eight of the top 10 and 23 of the 33 first-round picks had yet to sign with their respective teams.
Had Seattle not inked Hultzen, the club would have received a compensatory pick in 2012. That selection would have came at the same slot, plus one. In other words, the Mariners would have received next year's No. 3 pick, which would be technically 2A.
But now they've got their guy, a 6-foot-3 lefty who draws comparisons to Phillies ace Cliff Lee. The 21-year-old Maryland native won 32 games over his three-year career at Virginia, and finished his junior season 12-3 with an impressive 1.37 ERA. He was a unanimous first-team All-American and was the 2011 John Olerud Two-Way Player Award winner after hitting .309 with 18 runs scored, 14 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs in 43 games.
"The thing that makes really good pitchers special are the other things outside of 'stuff,'" Zduriencik said. "I think the one thing that Tom and his staff, throughout the course of the college season, said was that this kid is smart and athletic. He's got those intangibles. He's a feisty competitor. He's a gamer.
"Those type of things carry players, as opposed to a guy with a great arm. He has a great arm with three good pitches, but he also has the other intangibles, which we like a lot."
In 2009, Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley signed a five-year, $7.5 million deal -- the seventh-highest contract in Draft history -- with a $6 million signing bonus. Hultzen will receive more per year and cashed in on a larger bonus.
Hultzen, who is known for his excellent command and impressive changeup, was actually taken by the D-backs in the 10th round three years ago, but elected to attend Virginia.
"That was very important for me," Hultzen said. "I've learned so much, not only about baseball, but about being a man and growing up. It helped me mature on and off the field."
Not everybody drafted in June became a member of the Seattle organization. Third-round selection Kevin Cron, the 92nd pick and a recent graduate of Phoenix's Mountain Pointe High School, elected to go the college route and will attend Texas Christian University in the fall. He had verbally committed to the Horned Frogs.
As a result, the Mariners will receive a compensatory third round pick in next year's Draft.
"We made a very legitimate offer, but just couldn't get an agreement in place tonight," Zduriencik said. "Tom worked very, very hard on it at the end ... it went pretty deep and it was a pretty substantial offer, but we just couldn't come to terms."
Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.