Slowly but surely, the pressure is starting to build against Jordan Danks. The once promising Chicago White Sox prospect saw his first big league action in 2012 and has failed to stick with the big league club ever since.
There were varying opinions on what Danks’ ceiling would be as he was making his way through the Sox farm system. Some believed that he could be a quality corner outfielder if his bat ever developed and if he could consistently get on base. The majority of people believed that he would most likely be a fourth outfielder who could provide enough offense in occasional starts.
For the past two-plus, years Danks has been heading towards the latter due to his inconsistent hitting coupled with his impressive defense. Right now, he is seen as a defensive replacement at best who has seen time against the occasional right-handed starter. The leash on the 27-year-old is short due to his age and the plethora of other options the Sox have in the outfield. Danks’ career .228/.301/.341 slash impresses no one and reminds people more of Joe Borchard than anyone else.
Entering 2014, Danks was sent down to the minors as Avisail Garcia, Alejandro De Aza and Adam Eaton started in the outfield with Dayan Viciedo getting the nod as the fourth outfielder. After Garcia suffered a season-ending injury, Danks received the call to join the big club. Danks has only started one game in the outfield since then, but is expected to receive an ample number of at-bats. With his playing time destined to increase, Danks has been given another chance to prove himself.
Unlike the first two years though however, the Sox are slowly designing a backup plan to put in place if Danks continues to be inconsistent at the plate.
This past Thursday, the White Sox signed former top prospect Gorkys Hernandez. Once highly regarded as a future All-Star, Hernandez has struggled in recent years. His speed and defensive ability continue to be above average, but he provides very little at the plate. He has been described as a poor man’s version of Brett Gardner.
Why should Danks be concerned about the Sox signing a faster version of himself? Clearly, this move is signaling that the ball club is ready to move on if Danks fails to take a leap forward in 2014. The plan is for Hernandez to replace Danks on the roster if he fails to be an adequate backup. While Danks may provide more occasional pop than the new Sox minor leaguer, Hernandez’s speed and glove work make him a more compelling man off the bench.
Does Danks need to panic and feel that one bad game will lead to the end of his White Sox career? No. Should he feel the heat now that the Sox have added more outfield depth to their system? Absolutely. Over the course of the last few years, it was known that even if Danks fell flat on his face, he would receive another call-up to redeem himself.
With the Sox stockpiling more and more replacements, those chances for redemption could eventually stop coming.