Outfielder Zach Daniels made the move to Major League Baseball official by signing with the Houston Astros on Wednesday. Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline announced the deal via Twitter.
4th-rder Zach Daniels signs with @astros for $400k (slot 131 = $430,800). Tennessee OF, well above-avg raw power, plus speed, chance to play CF. Big spring after swing & miss issues in past. @MLBDraft
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 17, 2020
Daniels, a fourth-round pick out of Tennessee, has reportedly signed for $400,000. The deal is projected to be under slot money, a move that would pad the Astros’ bonus pool. The outfielder was the third selection for Houston. The club lost their first two original picks due to ramifications related to the 2017 sign-stealing scandal.
Daniels was the first position-player off the board for the Astros in the draft. The former Vol also joins Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Brown as the second SEC member drafted by Houston. Brown, a preseason All-American by many outlets, was selected 30 spots ahead of Daniels. The former Commodore signed a deal on Thursday.
The former Vol brings a big bat to the major league club. As a junior, Daniels led Tennessee in RBI (18) and total bases (42). The outfielder also launched four home runs while slugging .750.
His OPS (1.228) and BA (.357) ranked second on the team in 2020. Daniels was named Round Rock Classic MVP for his performance in an early season tournament where the Vols beat then-ranked No. 1 Louisville Cardinals en route to a tourney sweep.
Daniels was rated as high as the No. 48 prospect in 2020 according to D1Baseball. The Stockbridge, Ga. product brings versatility to the outfield and the ability to play either corner. Daniels posted a perfect fielding percentage in 2020 after a .667 mark in less attempts during his sophomore season. After 29 SO in 60 AB in 2019, Daniels lowered his swing-and-miss rate which resulted in 14 SO in 56 AB for his junior campaign.
The adjustments made by Daniels were enough for Houston to grab him at No. 131. With the selection, the former Vol becomes the first draftee to sign with the Astros in 2020. He is also the first player from Tennessee to sign as a 2020 draftee. Pitcher Zach Wallace signed a UDFA contract with the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.