'Outstanding start' gets Dana in Futures Game

July 8th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Rhett Bollinger’s Angels Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

ANAHEIM -- It’s been quite the year for right-hander (Angels' No. 1 prospect, MLB Pipeline's No. 90 overall).

He got his first taste of being in big league camp in Spring Training, shined in the Spring Breakout prospect game against the Dodgers, joined MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects list last month and was named the club’s representative for the 2024 All-Star Futures Game on Tuesday.

Dana joins the American League squad as one of nine pitchers on the 27-man roster. The 25th annual Futures Game will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

“It's a great experience,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. “He's obviously earned it with his performance. I think it'll be a great experience for him to be around other high-quality players and to have a chance to participate in that. It's really special.”

The 20-year-old was challenged with a promotion to Double-A Rocket City this year, but he has been dominant despite being more than four years younger than his average competition. He's posted a 2.99 ERA with 97 strikeouts and 31 walks in 90 1/3 innings over 16 starts.

Dana, an 11th-round pick in the 2022 Draft out of Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J., signed for a record bonus for a player selected after the 10th round. But it’s proved to be a wise decision so far, as he pitched at both Single-A Inland Empire and High-A Tri-City last year before making the jump to Double-A this year, where he’s faced just one batter younger than him all season.

He’s pitched well enough that he’s on the Angels’ radar and a promotion late this season can’t be ruled out. Minasian said he wants to see Dana continue to develop, but he loves his work ethic and makeup.

“He’s obviously off to an outstanding start, really good first half,” Minasian said. “The competitiveness, the work in between starts has been just as impressive if not more than the actual work on the mound in games. He’s definitely somebody we have high hopes for, and he’s pitched well.”

Andy Schatzley, Dana's manager at Double-A, told MiLB.com that he’s been impressed by the way Dana carries himself and by his willingness to learn and be coached. He’s shown maturity beyond his years, which is what makes him stand out despite being one of the youngest players at Double-A.

“First thing you have to do is define a process, and he’s off the charts at that,” Schatzley said. “The second thing is [to] commit to a process, and he’s also off the charts at that -- extremely regimented and disciplined. The other thing is to lean on the experience of others, and he has killed it. He’s three for three in those components.”

Dana, who has an imposing 6-foot-4 frame and long flowing blond hair, told MiLB.com that he’s aware of everything that comes with being a top prospect, especially the expectations. But Dana has done his best to focus only on what he can control, and so far, it’s paid dividends and could lead to a quick rise to the Majors.

“I don’t really see it as pressure, it’s more outside noise for me,” Dana said. “I’m just focused on winning here, and I try to block out the outside noise as much as possible.”