Position: Left Handed PitcherHeight: 6-5 Weight: 210
Born: 12/27/1981 Bats: Left Throws: Left
A fifth round draft choice out of the University of Houston in 2003, Zell was a solid contributor at the Division I level. Prior to his two year stint in Conference USA, Zell spent a year dealing for Angelina Junior College with little success. Upon transferring, the big lefty improved dramatically, forcing himself into the Houston rotation by the end of the 2002 season. Posting solid numbers, Danny entered his junior season as a member of the rotation. In 2003, Zell lead the Cougars in wins with nine, and an ERA of 3.34 in 18 appearances. Zell's professional debut in 2003 with Oneonta was met with only modest results. Control problems were the root of Danny's problems during his first summer, walking 18 in only 31 innings. His sophomore season was much more productive, at least in between minor injuries. Improved control led to a 2.27 ERA in 75 innings, mostly in middle relief.
Despite his large, projectable frame, Zell does not possess the velocity one would expect. Aptly described as a "finesse" pitcher, Danny relies on movement and deception to be effective. Zell's delivery is clean, long, and loose, similar to a young Chuck Finley. With movement on his fastball and a solid assortment of off-speed pitches, Danny induces high numbers of ground balls, requiring a solid defense behind him. Thus far, control has been the determining factor with regards to Danny's success. When his control has been good (see 2004), Zell has followed suit with some very good performances. When his control is awry (see junior college and 2003), Zell's effectiveness suffers accordingly. It is unlikely Zell will be able to be an effective professional starter without one exceptional pitch, but it is very likely he can be a contributing member to a bullpen.
Performance Year Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP WHIP 2004
Minor injuries, including arm soreness, plagued Danny in 2004, but without a significant injury history, there should be no major concern moving forward.
As alluded to previously, Zell's success will be largely dependent on his continued health and control. With a likely spot in the 2005 Lakeland bullpen, Zell will have the chance to establish himself as a legitimate, rising bullpen option. It will be nearly impossible for Danny to avoid the inevitable "soft-tosser" label that accompanies most finesse pitchers, but as long as he is recording outs, you will not hear too many complaints. At age 23, Zell will be slightly older than the majority of his Florida State League competition, and could earn a quick promotion to Erie with early success in A-ball. Look for Danny's name to begin popping up more during next offseason, with the possibility of seeing him in Detroit late in the 2006 season.