It may take a little patience for Tyler Danish and Thaddius Lowry, a pair of high picks on the Bristol White Sox pitching staff. But they're ready to go in their first summer in professional uniforms as they're finding out what it's all about in the Appalachian League.
"It's going great, just getting used to the transformation from high school ball to professional ball," said Danish, a second-round pick in June and the No. 7 prospect in the White Sox system. "You have to get a routine. … As everyone says, it's a grind. It's a nine-, 10-hour day every day."
Appy League opponents might not see a steady diet of the 18-year-old right-handers as they're phased into the Bristol pitching staff. When they're on the mound, they tend to be worth watching, so the attention isn't likely to bother them.
"We have to grow up a little faster," said Lowry, a fifth-rounder this year. "We're the younger guys on the team. I was a little bit concerned because you're going against better players."
Danish sports a 2.00 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 18 innings and hasn't allowed more than one earned run in any of his first nine appearances.
"You obviously are going to feel a little attention," said Danish, a native of Valrico, Fla. "It's me understanding the process. The good thing is once you get out there, you're the same as everyone else. Now, it's being the normal kid. In high school, everyone thought I was the greatest thing."
Danish threw 94 innings without allowing an earned run during his senior season for Durant High School, leading his team to the state final. He was quick to accept the White Sox offer, leaving behind a college scholarship to Florida.
With the high innings prior to June, Bristol manager Mike Gellinger said Danish will be limited to about 30 innings this summer.
"He'll go every fifth day, two innings," noted Gellinger, adding that Danish projects to be a starter in 2014 and has shown a good variety of quality pitches, including a slider and a sinking fastball.
"It's hard to just watch," Danish said. "Playing two innings every five days [compared] to when I played every single inning in high school. I understand it's beneficial. It's to keep me healthy."
On his non-pitching days, Danish spends two days charting pitches from the stands and two days in the dugout.
Lowry has a little more catching up to do. Until his senior season of high school, he was a catcher and needs the mound work after working about 65 innings in high school.
"They're a little more lenient with me," he said. "I've started to become more of a pitcher. It's a pretty big change."
Still, he was confident enough that he skipped going to Texas Tech so he could sign right away. He said one recent benefit has been the presence of 28-year-old right-hander Hank Mabee, who has been on a rehab assignment with the Bristol club. That has allowed the younger pitchers to learn from a colleague with considerably more experience.
Lowry, 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 appearanes, has reached up to 94 mph with his fastball.
"They don't want to rush me," he said.
Never too late: Outfielder Blake Brown started this season in the South Atlantic League but was sent back to Danville, where he's trying to discover his stroke as he repeats his 2012 assignment. Of his first four RBIs with the D-Braves this season, three came on two-out hits. "It's contagious, that's for sure," Danville manager Jonathan Schuerholz said. "It sure jump-starts you. Earlier, we weren't getting those two-out knocks."
Whatever it takes: Outfielder Tanner Mathis went on a 9-for-21 tear that pushed his average to .305, making him the only player with regular playing time on the Greeneville Astros batting above .300. Despite holding the league's best record, the Astros own the eighth-best team batting average.
Had to run for this one: League home run leader Sam Bates, a first baseman for the Burlington Royals, has been on a tear with four of his eight home runs coming during his last eight games. The most unusual blast was an inside-the-park shot that hit high off the right-center field fence at Burlington Athletic Stadium, caroming toward left-center field and away from Bristol center fielder Thurman Hall. "That doesn't happen all the time," Bates said of the inside-the-park action. "I wasn't expecting it to happen to me."