The Houston Astros organization is currently playing in its fourth World Series in the last six seasons. That despite losing key pieces like outfielder George Springer, shortstop Carlos Correa and pitcher Gerrit Cole over the last couple of seasons. But that’s why they’ve become the standard franchise in baseball over that timeframe. They found other pieces to step in and replace those key cogs. That comes from having a great farm system loaded with talent at many different positions.
One player currently developing in the Stros farm system is outfielder Zach Daniels, a talented player chosen in the fourth round of the 2020 five-round MLB Draft. Daniels was able to overcome early struggles in college and then make the cut in a year where the draft was severely shortened. At Tennessee, he sputtered through his first two seasons, only to bounce back in his COVID-19 shortened junior season with splits of .357/.478/.750 in just 17 games played.
Daniels is performing well in the Arizona Fall League, showing that unique blend of speed, raw power and supreme athleticism.
Daniels, the Astros 29th-ranked prospect hit a 481- foot moonshot homerun that registers as the longest dinger hit by an Astros player in 2022. That distinction was previously held by slugger Yordan Alvarez who’s 469-foot shot in May sent shockwaves through the RingCentral Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics.
Daniels told reporters this, following his big homer ….
“It’s probably the longest in my career. Probably one of the top exit velos for my home runs, too. So definitely a big home run for me.”
Zach Daniels since June 1st:
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) September 9, 2022
Daniels Has Above Average Raw Power: Struggles With Off-Speed Pitches
Throughout his Tennessee career, Daniels displayed solid power, but he also matured with his approach to the plate. Daniels started to understand how making contact and allowing pitchers to provide the power, rather than swinging for the fences, can actually produce more favorable power results.
“You let him be the power, to be honest. I can’t take credit,” Daniels said. “But, definitely, you have to shorten up and then just let him supply the power. You don’t have to try too hard or hit it as hard.”
Zach Daniels crushed this one.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) October 26, 2022
The next step in Daniels’ development is to become better at hitting the off-speed pitches. Until then, he’s going to have problems as pitchers will continue to throw him junk they know you can’t hit.
Daniels Needs To Look No Further Than Jeremy Peña For Motivation
Daniels was fortunate to be around Astros rising star Jeremy Peña during the spring. In fact, both were routinely part of the same hitting group. While Peña earned a job from the jump and has blossomed into one of the stars of this Astros World Series run, Daniels has a little more work to do. Seeing Peña win the 2022 ALCS MVP is also good for Daniels, as it allows him a first-hand look at what hard work and dedication to your craft can do. Daniels is now even mimicking Peña’s plate discipline and stance.
“It’s kind of lay back and rotate as I go,” said Daniels explaining Pen’s style. “That allows me to make an in-game adjustment a little bit better and let’s my bat come through the zone a bit cleaner too as well.”
This MLBbro has all the tools, but he’ll need to show consistency to reach the Majors as Peña has already done. If he does, he could provide another power bat and solid glove for the Astros.