07/11/2004 9:06 PM ET
Danks represents Rangers well
Lefty earns win with scoreless inning in USA's victory
By Rush Olson / Special to MLB.com
|John Danks was the Rangers' lone representative at the 2004 Futures Game. (Texas Rangers)
HOUSTON -- For Rangers prospect John Danks, his biggest moment in baseball so far came on the one-year anniversary of the event that might rank as the second-biggest.
Both occurred in the type of place Danks hopes to spend many more unforgettable moments -- Major League ballparks.
On Sunday, Danks pitched a scoreless inning and earned the win in the USA team's 4-3 victory over the World team in the New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game. The contest featured many of the minor leagues' top prospects and took place at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The 19-year-old left-hander called it his most memorable trip to the mound.
"Right now, it ranks up there. This is the biggest ordeal I've ever done," said Danks. "I've never played in front of this many people."
In 2003, Danks spent the day at Ameriquest Field in Arlington throwing for Rangers front office members after signing his first professional contract. The setting had much in common with Sunday's locale.
"Throwing there or here, I mean, it's a big-league park," Danks observed. "It doesn't get any better than this. That's the goal or the dream; to play in a park like this every day."
Danks entered the game to start the third inning. He allowed two hits, with neither ball hit exceptionally hard. Astros prospect Willy Taveras also reached base on an error, and at one point Danks faced a bases-loaded situation. The circumstances could have unnerved the teenager, but he remained in control.
"[I knew I had] great guys behind me," Danks noted. "I knew if I just made them hit the ball, I'd get out of it. Even with the bases loaded, I wasn't worried. Make them hit the ball and good things will happen to you."
He emerged with a scoreless inning, and his teammates' two unearned runs in the bottom half of the frame gave the USA a lead it would not relinquish. On a night in which Class A-level pitchers acquitted themselves well as a group, Danks came away with the win. The Rangers prospect's USA squad had only two other A-level players, and the World team had five. The four pitchers among the group combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings against mostly Double-A and Triple-A hitters.
Danks, however, didn't focus on doing his letter classification proud. His concern lay with representing the "T" on his cap.
"I really just wanted to put on a good showing and represent the Rangers well," said Danks. "Being the only Ranger here, I wanted to make everyone believe I was the right person to come here and represent the Rangers."
As the only prospect from his organization (no team can typically have more than two, although Seattle had three thanks to a June 27 acquisition of Jeremy Reed), Danks had no baseball family to celebrate with. Luckily for the Austin native and Round Rock resident, an All-Star experience in one's home state has its advantages.
"Family, friends, lots of people," attended Sunday's game, Danks said. "We're going to go have a good time tonight.
Rush Olson is the creative director, media, for the Texas Rangers. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.