BRANDON - The past two weeks have been quite eventful for Tyler Danish. On June 3, the all-everything baseball player graduated from Durant High, the school he led to its first baseball state championship game in May. Days later, he was selected 55th overall by the Chicago White Sox in the MLB draft. Then on Monday, Danish was named the top player in Florida by the Florida Dairy Farmers, who, for 20 years, have crowned a Mr. Baseball. Alex Rodriguez won the first award in 1993.
Sometime today, Danish will head to Chicago, where he'll likely sign a contract that could make him a millionaire by week's end. He then plans to report to Bristol, Va., the site of Chicago's rookie-league affiliate in the Appalachian League. But before he could depart for his pro career, Danish was given a surprise celebration Wednesday night at the home of Tony and Bertha Saladino, who presented the right-hander with the 43rd Annual Saladino Memorial Baseball Award, which goes to the top senior in Hillsborough County, as voted by coaches. "I grew up as a 7- and 8-year-old watching Saladino games and to receive this is just an honor and a blessing," Danish said. Danish led the Cougars to a state runner-up finish with a 15-1 record, 156 strikeouts, 16 walks and a 0.00 ERA. He also hit .411 with nine home runs, 27 RBIs and a .756 slugging percentage. Not only was Danish the Tribune's baseball player of the year, he also was the male athlete of the year. "I was fortunate to have you in my house and witness what I'll never see again," said Durant baseball coach Butch Valdes, whose brother, Mike, won the award in 1995. Tony Saladino was Danish's physical education teacher in elementary school. He said Danish showed above-average athleticism at a young age. "We had to pull him out for safety reasons (for the other kids)," Tony Saladino said. MERCADO AGREES: Gaither shortstop Oscar Mercado agreed to a $1.5 signing bonus with the St. Louis Cardinals, as reported by Baseball America. Mercado was selected with the 57th overall pick last week. email@example.com (813) 259-7305 Twitter: @NickWilliamsTBO