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 Rocket City Trash Pandas

Caden Dana Aims to Block Outside Noise, Keep Having Fun in Rocket City

May 21, 2024 - Southern League (SL)
Rocket City Trash Pandas News Release

In a league as difficult to adjust to as the Southern League, one of its top hurlers has been a 20-year-old receiving his first taste of Double-A action.

Trash Pandas right-hander Caden Dana has impressed many during his third professional season. The Los Angeles Angels' No. 2 prospect has ranked in the league's top 10 in ERA, innings pitched, batting average against and WHIP among others.

After making just 14 starts across Low-A Inland Empire and High-A Tri-City a year ago, Dana made an impression when he started for the Angels in the inaugural Spring Breakout Game, tossing two shutout innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers top prospects.

That wrapped up Dana's first MLB spring training with the Angels, something he knew he was prepared for.

"It was a big step up," Dana said. "I knew I was ready for that challenge, it was more serious but a lot more fun too being around those guys."

Following his tenure in Spring Training, Dana joined the Trash Pandas for the first time, entering the season as the second-youngest player on the roster.

So far, Dana has enjoyed his first few months in Rocket City.

"It's been great, the team atmosphere and the chemistry we have going right now is fun," Dana said. "It carries onto the field, we're here to have fun and take it one outing at a time."

Dana was placed in the starting rotation from the jump, making his first Double-A start in the Trash Pandas home opener against the first place Birmingham Barons when he threw 4.2 innings while allowing two runs and striking out seven batters.

Following that appearance, Dana threw six innings or more in each of his next five starts even reaching a career-high seven innings on two occurrences.

Trash Pandas manager Andy Schatzley has enjoyed every second of Dana's early success as well as his adjustment to the league.

"Obviously impressed. The talent is as advertised and then some," Schatzley said. "How quickly he's acclimated mentally and emotionally is the most impressive thing for me."

For Schatzley, it takes three main keys to settle into the Southern League. Not only has Dana checked all of Schatzley's boxes, he's crushed them.

"First thing you have to do is define a process and he's off the charts at that," Schatzley said. "The second thing is 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. He's three for three in those components."

Finding a process that works is especially important in the Southern League which only features eight teams. Having already seen three of those team's multiple times, Dana aims to find aspects from each start that will help prepare him for the next one.

"Keep working on the little things right now," Dana said. "Take bits and pieces from each outing and try to improve on those things."

That has all helped to make Dana easy to coach in the eyes of Schatzley who mentioned a rare balance that his pitcher possesses.

"He's extremely coachable and open to getting advice. He seeks it out but is also really comfortable in his own skin" Schatzley said. "It's a really unique and impressive balance and it's really helped him to this point."

For the Angels top pitching prospect, being comfortable with himself also helps with the noise from out West. As Angels fans watch with intrigue during his development in Rocket City waiting for the day he can wear red, Dana keeps his focus on what he can control to tune out the outside pressure.

"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."

Winning in Rocket City means playing in front of the Toyota Field crowd that Dana had heard so much about from fellow teammates and coaches upon his arrival. It's a crowd Dana has already pitched in front of three times to open the season and will see twice more when the Trash Pandas host the Montgomery Biscuits this week.

"We draw a good crowd here, that's why we play the game" Dana said. "Sometimes you can't even hear yourself think."

Having seen his growth from the start of the season to now, Schatzley knows that Dana will be able to produce wherever he goes.

"He's someone who can make an impact anywhere," Schatzley said. "The sky's the limit for him."

At the end of the day, what Angels fans can expect from their highly-touted prospect is getting a player who enjoys doing what he does.

"I'm out there to have fun," Dana said. "Sometimes I'm laughing on the mound, I'm trying to stay loose and relaxed, I'm out there to have fun."

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Southern League Stories from May 21, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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