This player preview appears in the March issue of Indians Ink Magazine, which profiles the top prospects in the Cleveland Indians organization. This year's issue has expanded coverage, providing profiles of the top 100 prospects, as ranked by Indians Ink staff members. The issue includes an interview with new player development director Ross Atkins.
Daniel Denham’s pro baseball career, which was already on life support, took a turn for the worse in 2006.
Denham, the Tribe’s 2001 No. 1 draft choice, was in Class AAA Buffalo’s starting rotation to begin the season. A little more than a month later, he was demoted to the Bisons’ bullpen. By mid-May he was back at Class AA Akron, working out of the Aeros’ bullpen.
It wasn’t exactly the career path the Indians had envisioned for the 6-1, 180-pound right-hander, who comes in at No. 35 on this year’s Indians Ink list of the Tribe’s Top 100 Prospects. That's down from No. 15 a year ago.
Denham eventually pitched well enough in relief for the Aeros to earn 10 starts. He wound up going 6-2 with a 4.88 ERA. In 23 games (10 starts), he worked 66 1/3 innings, allowing 66 hits and 36 earned runs.
Control was an issue for Denham, who walked 39 while striking out just 40.
While his overall numbers at Akron weren’t scintillating, they were much better than what he did at Buffalo, where for the second straight year he struggled virtually every time he pitched.
In ’06, he was 1-2 with a whopping 8.28 ERA for the Bisons. In nine games (four starts), he worked 25 innings, allowing 41 hits and 23 earned runs. Opponents hit .369 against him. Denham got his first taste of Triple-A ball in 2005, starting three games. He went 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA before quickly getting sent back to Akron.
Denham’s failure to succeed at Buffalo is somewhat of a mystery because he continues to throw an above-average fastball, which tops out about 94 miles per hour, an improving cut fastball and an average curveball and slider. When he is going well, Denham gets a lot of ground-ball outs.
The fact he has an ineffective changeup might well account for a big part of his problems. In addition, Denham’s attitude, which borders on cocky, has also been questioned throughout his pro career.
Denham, who has never been on the Tribe’s 40-man roster, can potentially be a six-year minor league free agent at the end of the 2007 season, making this coming year the most important of his career.
Daniel Denham, RHP, age 24
1st round, 2001; Deer Valley HS; Antioch, CA.
Projected 2007: Buffalo
Daniel Denham IP H BB K W L SV ERA
2006 Akron 66.1 66 39 40 6 2 0 4.88
2006 Buffalo 25.0 41 11 14 1 2 0 8.28
Minor career 688.2 709 288 512 47 40 0 4.45