Cubs Prospect Interview: Dan McDaniel

Dan McDaniel pitches with a chip on his shoulder. That's a good thing for the Chicago Cubs pitching prospect and trouble for his opponents.

McDaniel, who turns 21 April 18, was one of the more interesting Cubs selections from the 2008 draft class. The right-hander was taken by Chicago in the 14th round from Chabot College in California where he logged 68 innings and posted a 5.42 ERA, striking out 72 batters and issuing 23 walks.

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 entering 2009.

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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.

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