SEATTLE -- General manager Jack Zduriencik is looking to the Atlantic Coast Conference to help rebuild the Seattle Mariners.
The club introduced its top two draft picks Wednesday, with Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen and Clemson shortstop Brad Miller pulling on Mariners jerseys during a press conference at Safeco Field. Hultzen went No. 2 overall and Miller was the 62nd pick.
Two years ago, in Zduriencik's first draft as Seattle GM, the Mariners took North Carolina teammates Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager in the first and third rounds respectively. Both players spent a little more than a year in the minors before being promoted to the majors this summer.
They also grabbed North Carolina left-hander Brian Moran in the seventh round, and he's up to Double-A.
"We play against some of the best players in the country every game, which does a lot for your development as a player and as a person," Hultzen said. "You deal with failure, the ups and downs of a long season.
"I don't know if we're ahead of the curve but I feel more confident starting a professional career with that (ACC background)," he said.
The 21-year-old Hultzen was 32-5 with a 2.08 ERA in three seasons at Virginia. He went 12-3 with a 1.37 ERA in 18 starts last season, limiting opponents to a .184 batting average while striking out 165 in 118 innings.
Hultzen agreed to an $8.5 million, five-year deal right before the deadline Monday night. He received a major league contract that included a $6.35 million signing bonus.
He will be in spring training with Seattle next year and could get a shot at a spot in the rotation.
"You preach it, you say it but when they produce you stay true to your word, you give them the opportunity," Zduriencik said.
"One of the first things we said when we got here was we wanted to build the organization from within," he said. "We wanted to do everything we could to accumulate talent."
The 21-year-old Miller hit .395 with five homers and 50 RBIs in 56 games for Clemson. He also won the ACC player of the year award.
"Playing in the ACC is getting to face pitchers like Danny and hitters like Ackley and Seager," Miller said. "That's what you want, playing at that high level against those great players. It's been fun to watch them pave their way and already be up here."
Zduriencik said the focus on the ACC "can be coincidental, it can be cyclical." He said it could be that while the scouts narrowed their first-round focus on Ackley and Hultzen they were also exposed to the talents of Seager, Miller and Moran.
Hultzen next plays in the Instructional League in Arizona and then the Arizona Fall League. Miller will begin his pro career immediately, playing for Class A Clinton before heading to the Instructional League.