Since being drafted out of Durant High School in the second round of the 2013 draft, Tyler Danish has flown through the White Sox system and is now situated at the heart of the Birmingham Baron’s rotation. Danish is the #5 prospect in the White Sox farm system according to our most recent installment of the Future Sox top prospects list. On Monday, the 21-year-old took some time out of his day and shed some light on his progression as a professional, his approach to pitching, and some important influences to him.
Brian Bilek: Take us back to when you were drafted. You were finishing up an incredible senior campaign in high school and had a commitment to your home-state Florida Gators. What was it going to take for you to go pro? Was there a certain dollar amount or draft position that you were set on?
Tyler Danish: Yeah, my agent and my mother sat down and we agreed a million dollars would probably get it done. There was obviously some negotiations going on. We didn’t see eye-to-eye with the White Sox at first but we eventually got it done. We had a million dollars going in and we weren’t going to budge on it at all.
BB: When the Sox drafted you, a lot of the pundits and evaluators labeled you as a project for the White Sox given your unique arm action and pitching mechanics. Looking at the last couple years specifically, there has been a proliferation of arm injuries. Is there any different preparation you have brought to your game with injury prevention in mind?
TD: I work out at a place back home called the Florida Baseball Ranch. They’re big into not changing you and giving you the most efficient way to stay healthy arm wise. The guy who runs it is my best friend’s father. He’s been a physical therapist for 19 years so he understands the body but he understands baseball as well. I’ve worked with him since I was 15 trying to throw as safe and efficient while getting everything out of it that I possibly can. I guess you could say that’s how I luckily, knock on wood, have been able to stay away from injury since the beginning of my career.
BB: So you flew through Bristol and Kanny and then really settled in at Winston-Salem with another strong season. The Dash’s pitching coach J.R. Perdew gets rave reviews from players and people in baseball ops alike. What did you learn from working with him?
TD: He’s amazing. He was around with the Braves’ organization when Glavine was there and Maddux – those guys were great and Hall of Famers. Just being around him he’s brought so much experience. Guys like us with Carson here, Jordan Guerrero and Brennan, all guys that are very young and new to AA and it’s amazing with the advice he’s able to give us. It helped last night. We would talk about when you don’t have your best stuff early on, how to survive and get back in a rhythm. I didn’t have my best stuff last night but I got through it and as the game went on I got in a rhythm and it ended up that I got to pitch to the sixth inning and give us a chance to win and we did come back and win. Just the knowledge he brings and the mindset he has is great for all of us.
BB: You’re repeating Birmingham this year. What’s different about you today, from when you first started at Birmingham one year ago?
TD: I understand this game a lot better than what I did. In Rookie Ball, Low-A and High-A I was able to go out there and throw it in the zone and get outs. Here you have guys that are elite talents and the top prospects in the game and they’re going to hit good pitches. You just got to learn not to be too fine and your stuff plays because you’re here for a reason. Last year I think I got caught up with a great April and thinking into the future and maybe getting promoted and the game humbled me real quick. Then I was just inconsistent the rest of the year. I come in now and I just feel more confident to go game-by-game, inning-by-inning and pitch-by-pitch. It’s a way different mindset than I had last year. I am glad I went through the failure because I needed to go through it sometime and I’d rather go through it here and learn then eventually go through it in the big leagues and have to restart the whole process.
BB: You’re back at Birmingham but you’re still young for the league. What is the toughest part about being the young guy?
TD: I think it’s earning older guys’ respect. There’s guys who have been around and as a young kid you don’t want to burn any bridges. You want to be a great teammate. You want to help as much as possible with anything, whether it’s hitting fungos before the game or just being there for them. The guys respect the young teammates here. If you are respectful it doesn’t matter in this clubhouse. We have a great group of guys. I played with a lot of them and some I haven’t but at this level age doesn’t matter. Everyone is an elite talent so respect the game and you’ll get respect as well and the age just kind of, goes out the window.
BB: Looking back to March, the White Sox gave you an extended look in Spring Training and you pitched very well. What did you learn working with the Major League coaches and Major League players? And did anyone in particular have an effect on you?
TD: It was my second camp so I knew going in what to expect. Me and Coop talked before I went there and he said I was looking at a relief role and you never know what could happen down the road. So I took that as an opportunity to open eyes and I think I did a good job.
But just hanging out with Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon and John Danks who’s been around, you learn so much. Sometimes you over think this game and you don’t have to. You have great stuff for a reason. You’re in big league camp for a reason. They think highly of you so you just have to go out there and be consistent. That’s the biggest thing with guys in the big leagues who stick around and guys who don’t – it’s just consistency. Everyone’s great once you get there, you’re one of the top players to play the game so just be consistent, learn to trust your stuff, and have confidence in everything you do. That was huge to be around those guys and learn that from them.
BB: If you had to put out a scouting report on yourself, what would be some notes that you would include?
TD: I am going to compete. I’m going to be the hardest competitor there is. Like again, last night, it wasn’t the greatest thing, but I tried to compete and stay in the game and just get to the fifth or sixth. That was the mindset after the first inning when it didn’t go well and I had to threw a lot of pitches: just somehow find the way to the fifth or sixth. I found it and next thing you know we have lead and I got the W.
Anyways, I am going to compete and I am going to work hard between those five days too. Today I put in a great lift. People don’t see behind the scenes how much work goes into it as a starter. All of the guys work hard, the relievers and starters. I mean, we had 19 of 25 people at gym today. This is a great group and we’re clicking now and ready to roll.
BB: Generally speaking, guys who throw with your arm slot are susceptible against opposite-handed batters. What is the key for you in approaching left-handed hitters?
TD: J.R. Perdew has always been known for teaching the cutter. He taught me mine in a very short period of time. We’ve already thrown it in there and last night it was a huge help to me. Cutters and change ups – that’s how I am going to get those guys out. You gotta be hard in and the cutter’s there. I think one lefty had a hit and lefties were for 1-9 last night. It’s unbelievable how much you can get the cutter in on their hands and they think you’ll back it up with a sinker at their hip and there’s three different pitches out of one arm angle that looks the same to them. It’s the cutter that’s been huge for me and it’s going to be a building process as the year goes on but right now I’m throwing it really well. There’s still work to be done with it and I need to get better at it so right now it’s just me, to get those guys out, is to get that cutter in on the lefties.
BB: Just to close out, what is your goal for this season? What are you setting out to do?
TD: Be better. Be consistent. Grow. Grow as a pitcher and develop. If I get called up to Chicago later on in the year, that’s great. If I don’t, I want to open some eyes and let guys know that I am ready and I am going to compete everyday. I’ll just take it day-by-day like I said, because whatever happens happens. I can’t control promotions or call-ups I can just control my game and how I throw every fifth day and that’s what I am going to do.
Thanks to Tyler and the Birmingham Barons for helping pull this together! You can read more about Tyler in his Prospect Profile.
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