As first reported by Bleacher Nation, (and subsequently confirmed by Tommy Birch) the Cubs will be promoting lefty reliever Danny Hultzen to Chicago. The former No. 2 overall pick has spent eight years in the minors due to injuries and performance, but he’s finally healthy and has absolutely dominated opponents at Triple-A Iowa this season. Hultzen has a 1.26 ERA with 23 strikeouts and nine walks and has allowed a mere .087 average over 14.1 innings.
Something really awesome to share tonight I heard from a player at AAA …
After more than 8 years, multiple serious injuries, being in & out of the game, & working his way back w/Cubs, 2011 No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen is finally going to get the call to the big leagues.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) September 7, 2019
The 29-year-old lefty was originally drafted between Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer back in 2011, but has yet to throw a single inning in the majors. Hardly the first to fall victim to the weight of expectations, the can’t-miss prospect allowed his burden to crush him. Far from simply a mental issue, Hultzen chose to conceal shoulder pain by changing his mechanics until things finally got so bad that he was forced to undergo two separate shoulder surgeries.
He pitched a combined 18.2 innings from 2014-18, the last 8.2 of which came in the Cubs system last year. Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic caught up with Hultzen in Iowa earlier this season and put together a tremendous piece on the southpaw that is well worth your time.
Long story short, Hultzen is the best story to come out of an organization that has had its share of them this season. In a way, he’s carrying the torch for Luke Hagerty, another flamethrowing lefty whose career was cut short by injury. The key to Hultzen’s potential for September and beyond is that he’s touching 97 with his fastball while throwing from a lower arm slot that he believes will keep him healthy.
Because Hultzen is not yet on the 40-man roster, his promotion will necessitate a corresponding move. That could involve one of the few players not currently with the Cubs in Chicago, or could perhaps be lefty Derek Holland. And there’s also potential for some additional procedural shuffling to make room.
Regardless of exactly how it happens, this is really awesome news for Hultzen.