Danks knows about Draft pressure
His advice to first-round picks? Don't stress yourself
CHICAGO -- John Danks knows about the pressure that comes along with being a first-round Draft pick.
Try the ninth pick overall in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, to be exact. To add to the fun, the Texas native was picked by the local Rangers.
Danks ascended to the Majors in a most reasonable amount of time, making his debut after a trade to the White Sox in 2007. The 23-year-old southpaw didn't lay down any undue personal expectations for success once he joined the Rangers' organization, and he believes Chicago's 23rd pick in the first round of Tuesday's 2009 First-Year Player Draft should work under that same comfort level while developing his game.
"There can be pressure, but a guy can put a lot of that pressure on himself," said Danks, now a seasoned veteran in his third year as part of the South Siders' rotation. "You have to realize that 99 percent of the teams don't expect their Draft picks from the year before to be in the big leagues right away.
"Just work and try to improve every day, every year in the Minor Leagues. But know that you were drafted in the first round to be an impact player someday."
Following Tuesday's 23rd pick overall, the White Sox have four more selections in the first 103. This list includes four picks in the first two rounds, including an extra pick in the compensation round following the first due to Oakland's signing of free agent Orlando Cabrera after the White Sox offered arbitration to the free agent.
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft from Tuesday through Thursday. MLB Network will broadcast the first round at 5 p.m. CT on Tuesday from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York, at 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday. Rounds 31-50 will be on Thursday, starting at 10:30 a.m.
Doug Laumann, the White Sox director of amateur scouting, already has spoken as to how a player for whom the White Sox have interest but don't take at 23 still could be available at their next pick at 38. That sort of commentary either could mean the Draft is full of talent or there aren't really any superstars after the first few picks.
That answer will play out a few years after the Draft. But Laumann is confident the organization can get a player of significance at No. 23.
"There's going to be a true first-round guy," said Laumann, while meeting with the media during Monday's first game of a split doubleheader. "It's tough to find out exactly who that guy is right now because it is so even.
"We're going to feel real good about [picks] 23, 38, 61 and 71. All of those picks, we think we're going to get a good player."
Laumann talked about the White Sox looking for a fleet-footed leadoff type of player, as well as adding catching depth to the system. At pick No. 23, in this sort of deep pool, Chicago ultimately will be going with the best player available.
It could be a high school player, although Laumann pointed out how high school players have become more difficult to sign than college players because of the negotiating room college brings.
"If there's a high school guy out there, we'll certainly take him," Laumann said. "But we certainly don't want to burn any picks gambling on taking a high school guy that we're not going to sign."
Last year's Draft class, the first in Laumann's return to the organization, drew high marks from general manager Ken Williams. He pointed to the added athleticism and the plus-arms brought in over the last two years helping to replenish the system.
Gordon Beckham quickly became the crown jewel from both of those Drafts, having reached the Majors in 364 days from the time he was chosen eighth overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. That pressure spoken of by Danks was felt by Beckham, especially being selected so high by a perennial contender, but it didn't seem to bother him on his climb to the big leagues.
Even with Beckham's 0-for-10 opening entering Monday's nightcap, he hasn't seemed to flinch with the first-round "golden boy" depiction following him around.
"Once you get going, a lot is expected of you," Danks said. "But you really don't feel that pressure right away."
"I'd be lying if I thought we could get somebody here in another year," Laumann said. "We certainly think there's guys out there that are going to be here pretty quickly."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.