The White Sox's second-round draft pick will you have you guessing well after it's over.
With the 55th pick, the Sox selected Tyler Danish, a right-handed high school pitcher out of Florida. Although the Sox typically don't select prep pitchers that high, that's not nearly the strangest thing about it.
For one, he's listed at 6'1", but reports say he's shorter.
The second thing, look at his delivery:
With a three-quarter arm slot and a short slide step, that's a really unusual throwing motion that screams a righty-killing reliever, not a starter. From MLB.com's scouting report:
Danish employs a funky, low three-quarters delivery, which adds deception and causes a lot of movement on his fastball. But it also raises red flags with scouts, who are concerned about his risk for injuries. Some compare Danish’s arm action to Pat Neshek’s, though Danish’s stuff isn’t of the same quality. Danish mixes his low-90s fastball with a slider that provides good contrast to hitters. His arm action means he is likely destined for the bullpen, where his stuff is good enough for high-leverage situations.
That doesn't sound like a 55th-overall pick. Sure enough, he isn't on MLB.com or Keith Law's Top 100.
However, there are signs of life from Baseball America, which said scouts rated Danish as the top prep pitcher in Florida -- during which he pitched 94 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. BA softened that credential by noting that a pitcher of his build and delivery usually doesn't receive such an honor, which indicates a down year for the state, but it was enough to bump him up to No. 96:
His fastball comes in at 90-93 mph with heavy sink and late life, thanks in part to an arm slot comparable to that of big leaguer Jake Peavy. He produces a hard slurve from that slot and varies his arm slot with that and his changeup when necessary, showing a strong feel for his secondary stuff. The Florida recruit has a bit of a head whack in his delivery, which is smoother now but still has more effort than a typical starter.
Given the success of Peavy and Chris Sale, whose arm slot supposedly wasn't suitable for starting, it's possible that they see the combination of his deception and three-pitch feel and think they can sign a high-upside starter for under slot. Or maybe they realized that their farm system would've looked much better had they kept the last Florida high-school pitcher they drafted in the second round.
Danish is committed to Florida, so that complicates the picture, too. Since teams benefit from unorthodox budgeting in the new draft system, it's hard to evaluate an individual pick until the money is spent. The lack of enthusiasm about Danish relative to his draft position places emphasis on that patience.
While you're mulling this pick over, read up on his background:
He lost his dad in 2010, to cancer.
He lost him three years before that, too.
That was Dec. 7, 2007. Charlotte sat with her 13-year-old boy that day and cried while she broke the news. Her voice broke Wednesday while repeating the words …
"Dad’s going to go to prison. He got a 10-year sentence. He’s going to have to serve 81/2 years. But there’s good news: He’ll be coming home."
He never did.