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Hultzen joins Cubs: 'It's been a long road'

Left-hander was taken No. 2 overall by Seattle in 2011 Draft
@MLBastian
September 7, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- His name was called seven spots ahead of Cubs star Javier Baez. Only one player -- Gerrit Cole -- was taken ahead of him. One pick later, Trevor Bauer came off the board. You know plenty of the other names from the first round of the 2011 MLB

MILWAUKEE -- His name was called seven spots ahead of Cubs star Javier Baez. Only one player -- Gerrit Cole -- was taken ahead of him. One pick later, Trevor Bauer came off the board. You know plenty of the other names from the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, too.

Francisco Lindor. Anthony Rendon. George Springer. Blake Snell.

Danny Hultzen, who was the No. 2 overall pick that summer, is finally going to join the list of Major Leaguers to have graduated from that 2011 class. The 29-year-old left-hander was promoted from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday and joined the Cubs at Miller Park.

"I've seen the list before," Hultzen said. "Honestly, in the past, that would have an effect on me. But now, I kind of look at that and I can't do anything but laugh at it, because it's like All-Star, All-Star, Cy Young, All-Star, All-Star and then the little space where I was picked is kind of blank. I can laugh at that now.

"But in the past that was a real struggle for me, because I saw all these guys that I got picked ahead of and all that. For whatever reason, that had a real negative effect on me, of me trying to prove to people that I was good enough to be selected there and I was supposed to be this guy."

For the Cubs to clear room on the 40-man roster, catcher Taylor Davis was designated for assignment.

In 14 appearances for Triple-A Iowa this season, Hultzen compiled 23 strikeouts against nine walks in 14 1/3 innings, spinning a 1.26 ERA in the process. The pitcher was signed to a Minor League contract by the Cubs prior to last season, giving him an opportunity to work his way back from a variety of health issues that derailed his path to the big leagues.

After being taken in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Mariners, following a standout collegiate career with Virginia, Hultzen climbed to Triple-A in Seattle's system by the '12 campaign. That was before shoulder troubles necessitated multiple surgeries. He missed all of the '14 and '17 campaigns prior to the Cubs signing him in March 2018.

"I'm not even sure words can describe it," Hultzen said of reaching the Majors. "Gosh, it's been a long road. I just think about all the ups and downs of these past few years, and this makes it all worth it."

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.