Tyler Danish suffered some growing pains when arriving at Winston-Salem earlier this season, problems that made the 19-year old question his confidence at times.
Those troubles came in Danish's first five starts in which he allowed 20 runs in 21 1/3 innings. Danish, a second-round pick by the White Sox in the 2013 Draft, then made some changes that led to improvement, and he's now 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA after nine starts.
Danish pitched well in his first two professional stops, even posting a 3-0 record and an 0.71 ERA in seven starts with Kannapolis of the South Atlantic League earlier this year. That earned him a promotion to Winston-Salem, where the numbers weren't as good at first, which frustrated Danish.
"At first, it was very difficult," Danish said. "I just didn't make the right pitches -- and they hit them. Now I have to make the right pitch; I just can't throw my stuff in the zone. I have to think more."
Danish talked with Winston-Salem pitching coach J.R. Perdew and worked at trying to attack earlier in the count and be more aggressive. Those adjustments have paid off as Danish has given up just five runs in 19 2/3 innings in his last four starts, along with posting 15 strikeouts and walking only five.
"We came up with a game plan of -- get the guy out on three pitches or less," Danish said. "It was a huge thing. I feel better now. The coaches told me don't worry about the innings, just get better each time out, so it's about improvement. [That took] big-time pressure off of me."
Danish hadn't really dealt with much failure before these problems. He had a perfect 0.00 ERA in 94 innings during his senior year at Durant High School in Plant City, Florida, and was 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 15 games with two teams last year after signing with the White Sox.
Winston-Salem manager Tommy Thompson said Danish's issues with this team are understandable as the pitcher's had to move up a level while being one of the league's youngest players.
"This level of play is challenging to him; there's some 23, some 24, some 25-year-old young men here," Thompson said. "But he's making some adjustments, and he's getting better. I think he's getting more confident, and he's doing a lot of good things. I'm pleased with the progress he's making."
Danish said he's feeling better when going out to pitch, and the results show that. Most of the growing pains are all gone now.
"The confidence wasn't there at all," Danish said. "I struggled for a couple of weeks [wondering], 'Am I able to pitch here?' I'm enjoying the game a lot more now."
Missed chances: Myrtle Beach certainly had enough chances to score during Sunday's 7-1 loss to Lynchburg. The Pelicans finished with 10 hits but went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 14 on base.
Lucky 13: Potomac enjoyed the 13th inning in its game at Frederick on Sunday -- that's when Tony Renda singled to drive in Estarlin Martinez with the game-winning run in a 2-1 victory. Renda had been 0-for-5, and Martinez entered as a pinch-hitter in the 10th.
A grand game: Carolina's Erik Gonzalez hit his first career grand slam Friday to help the Mudcats to a 9-2 victory over Winston-Salem. Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with four RBIs in the victory, which ended the Dash's three-game winning streak.