Instead of making his big-league debut this year Mariners pitching prospect and former No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen missed most of the season with a shoulder injury and now he’ll likely miss all of next season too.
Hultzen underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum damage in his shoulder, which is basically the worst-case scenario for a pitcher. He entered this season ranked as a top-30 prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com, but made just six starts before being shut down at Triple-A.
Initially the Mariners described his shoulder problems as “minor” but last week general manager Jack Zduriencik encouraged Hultzen to see Dr. Andrews for a second opinion because the team doctor “doesn’t like what he sees.”
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.