But once signed to a professional contract, McDaniel went on a roll through the Northwest League at Low Class-A Boise, appearing in 20 games in relief and going 2-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He struck out 45 batters in 32 1/3 innings and walked 17, holding opponents to a .128 average against.
McDaniel was ranked the No. 16 prospect in the Cubs farm system by InsideTheIvy.com entering 2009.
Q: It seems you took a lot of people by storm last year with the season you had at Boise. You had to be happy with the season you had and the numbers you put up.
A: I was real happy with it. I knew I could put up those kinds of numbers, but I was hurt most of the season at my junior college and I started getting healthy toward the end of the year. Then I came out and … put up real good numbers and a lot of things went my way. It was my first time ever relieving, so it was something new for me to do. I took it and ran with it and ended up doing real well.
Q: What was your injury?
A: One of my ribs was out of place and it was hard for me to throw during the season.
Q: How did that come about?
A: Ah, no one knows. One day I woke up and my chest was hurting and I ended up not being able to throw for a couple of weeks. No one knows how it happened or anything.
Q: Scouts and coaches have described you as an aggressive pitcher that likes to get ahead and work quickly. Is that a good summation?
A: Yeah, I pitch with a chip on my shoulder. I pitch like I have to prove myself every time I take the hill. I pitch like I don't want anybody to ever take away what I've worked hard for my whole life. So yeah, that's my mentality on the mound. I go after people.
Q: What made you decide to sign with the Cubs? Oklahoma State was after you pretty hard with a scholarship offer.
A: I had a full ride to Oklahoma State and the thing with the Cubs is I really wanted to play professional baseball. I felt like I was ready; it's what I've been waiting to do my whole life. I felt like I prepared myself really well at my junior college to come here and be successful. I felt like another year of college wouldn't necessarily be a waste of my time, but I feel like it would just be another year on my arm and me feeling like I had already prepared myself, I felt it was the right time.
Q: Were you surprised at where you were drafted? It seemed a lot of teams may have been leery about the Oklahoma State offer and that the Cubs knew a thing or two about you that some clubs did not.
A: Just to be honest, I'm going to say going into my sophomore year I thought I was going to really blow up because my freshman year was so good and I was going to potentially be anywhere in the top five rounds. I came down with some injuries and didn't really put up the numbers that I'd hoped for. I just didn't pitch all that well, so me being drafted in the 14th round, I can't say that that's where I wanted to get drafted or where I thought I was going to get drafted, but it didn't surprise me at all.
Q: The layover between your college and pro season, was it a smooth transition or did you really have to work hard to get your arm back in shape once you got to Arizona and Boise?
A: I think that's where my junior college did a really good job of preparing me. What my junior college is all about is basically preparing kids for the next level and with me, I got drafted my freshman year by the Giants out of my junior college and they knew I was going to get drafted again so they ended up preparing me really well, and I just came into it with an open mind. The transition honestly wasn't too hard for me because I was ready to do it and that was a big part.
Q: What do you consider your out-pitch?
A: I honestly consider my fastball my out-pitch because I'm the type of pitcher that likes to set up my fastball with off-speed pitches. I have a curveball and a changeup and I'm working on a slider, but what I like to do is get ahead with the fastball, maybe show them a little off-speed and then close the at-bat with the fastball. It just goes along with the type of pitcher I am; that's just how I pitch.
Q: Tim Wilken said your curveball is a kind of hybrid pitch. Can you elaborate on that?
A: I think it's just the way that I throw it. I throw it real aggressively. I just try to throw it at the strike zone and let the movement get anybody out. I don't know; my arm does weird things when I throw the ball. Sometimes my fastball cuts and moves and sinks and does weird stuff. It's just how I throw I guess.
Q: It's too early to tell, but do you think your future is as a reliever or might we see you starting?
A: That's not really up to me. Right now they have me going a lot more innings this spring because they wanted to make me into a starter this year. Whatever the organization wants to do with me, I'm fine with. I told them last year that if they want me to come and be a starter or be a reliever then I'll have my body in shape to do whatever they want because I'm fine with both. I like both.
Q: How has your first spring training gone? What are some things that you're working on and how has the overall experience gone?
A: I was very fortunate. I've got a lot of friends in pro ball that I played with, that I've grown up with. I didn't actually going into it blind, but during the offseason … it wasn't really nerves, it was just kind of the fear of the unknown. I really didn't know exactly how it was going to go because it's something I've not been a part of before. I was a little nervous, but I felt like I prepared myself well enough in the off-season so I wouldn't have a problem. I've had a good spring so far. I started off working with the Double-A team and that was a lot of fun. I got to practice with some real good talent. That's where I want to end up at the end of the season. I got to get a little feel there at the beginning so that was good. I've had a good time. It's just about getting your work in and that's what I'm trying to do right now.