Prospect Profile: Daniel Zell

In continuing our offseason long look at the top prospects in the organization, TigsTown Minor League Editor Mark Anderson profiles each prospect in depth. Inside, he profiles lefty reliever Daniel Zell.

Daniel Zell
Position: Left Handed Pitcher Height: 6-5 Weight: 210
Born: 11/27/1981 Bats: Left Throws: Left

Background
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 struggles 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. The 2005 season served as Zell's coming out party. After the organization finally decided to place him in the bullpen full time, Danny dominated as a late inning specialist, posting a 2.15 ERA in 75 innings.

Scouting Report
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. The permanent move to the bullpen will give Zell a legitimate shot at a Major League bullpen job.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

A+

Lakeland

5-5

2.15

49

3

0

50

26

75.1

1.29


Health Record
Minor injuries, including arm soreness, plagued Danny in 2004, but without a significant injury history and a largely healthy 2005, there should be no major concern moving forward.

The Future
As alluded to previously, Zell's success will be largely dependent on his continued health and control. If Danny can remain a healthy member of the Erie bullpen in 2006, he could begin to get even more attention, particularly from the Tiger's front office. As much trouble as the Tigers have had in finding productive members of their bullpen, Zell's performance in 2006, could land him the lefty-specialists job when Jamie Walker's contract expires after next season. Either way, Zell has a very good chance at an extensive Major League career, just because of which arm he throws with.


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