Rick Hahn's 2013 draft is, if nothing else, shaping up to be an interesting one. He lead off with Tim Anderson, who many considered a reach or a risky pick in the first round, but injury aside, Anderson's brief pro career has moved him up in the estimation of many evaluators. Hahn followed up with Tyler Danish in the 2nd round. Although Baseball America had him as the top high school arm from Florida in the draft, they also had him pegged as somewhere "in the first five rounds." But he has done nothing but excel in pro ball, and he's doing his best to erode my healthy skepticism.
Part of my skepticism stems from Danish's delivery. It's a low arm slot, compared to Jake Peavy's, and Keith Law absolutely despises his throwing motion, or at least did at the time he was drafted, dooming him to the bullpen and potentially to the DL. As a general rule, a low arm slot means you're going to have a hard time getting opposite-handed hitters out. Justin Masterson is an example that comes to mind - even at his best, although he annihilated righties, even the worst of lefty hitters gave him fits.
Despite these obstacles, in 2013 as an 18-year old, Danish arrived in rookie ball and pitched well enough to earn a few innings in low-A before the season's end. Across the two levels, Danish managed 8.4 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9. When batters did put it in play, they didn't fare much better - hit-wise, 5.1 H/9 and 0.3 HR/9.
2014 has seen Danish pitch his way to High-A and on Saturday he threw a 6-inning no hitter before he was pulled due to organizationally-imposed innings limits. He hasn't allowed an earned run since July 23rd now, and since the beginning of July he has thrown 44.2 innings and has allowed 4 earned runs in total.
Danish doesn't have overpowering stuff on paper. A 90-93 mph fastball from a right-hander on the short side with a low arm slot doesn't sound very compelling. But Baseball America describes his slider as "heavy" - and this is supported by the fact that he just doesn't give up home runs.
HIs strikeout numbers still leave something to be desired. But if he has plus control and keeps the ball on the ground, one would imagine he'd do even better in front of a major league defense instead of a minor league one. Still only 19, one has to imagine that the White Sox will give him a chance to start the season in AA in 2015.
One can do well betting against prospects. If you bet against every prospect you will be right the overwhelming majority of the time. But until Tyler Danish stops producing, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. And for an organization that needs all the arms it can get its hands on, at the very least this guy looks like he could help a major league bullpen one day, and maybe there's more to the unusual Danish.