McDonald Working for Spot in Rotation

Dan McDonald was another rookie who put together a strong season in the Brooklyn bullpen in 2007. He took his lumps at times, but overall posted some gaudy numbers and demonstrated the tools that could translate into a spot in a long-season rotation this upcoming season. Inside Pitch spoke with McDonald as he wrapped up early camp.

Dan McDonald, the Mets' eighth round pick in the 2007 Draft and Seton Hall alumni, received the opportunity to pitch close to his college stomping grounds by landing in the Cyclones bullpen last summer. Although the bullpen was jammed with fresh faces, each hurler got their opportunities to make an impression and McDonald did just that.

In the first half of the NY-Penn League season, McDonald was on point as he kept baserunners to a minimum, particularly base hits. He surrendered only seven hits in his first 18 innings pitched [14 outings] for a .117 opponent's batting average, striking out 23 along the way. Though he was a starter earlier in his college career, he believes his shift to the bullpen as a senior paved the way for such success.

"Being a reliever my last year was good for me because I was able to come in and pitch everyday," he said. "I was in that mode when I got to Brooklyn so I was fresh enough to pitch when they needed me."

He finished the season with a 1-2 record, 3.16 ERA and just ten hits allowed in 25.2 innings pitched, but despite his success in relief, he went into the winter with plans on transforming back into a starting pitcher. While nothing is set in stone for the upcoming season, McDonald has the opportunity to change roles thanks to a strong repertoire which includes a 93-95 MPH four-seam fastball, a strong two-seam fastball, slider and changeup. It was the consistency of his pitches that dominated his off-season workouts as he kept an eye on opportunities ahead.

"I was focusing on my mechanics and the consistency with all my pitches, especially my fastball," said McDonald. "If I can do that with my fastball, I'll get much more of an advantage on the hitter which will help make my changeup more effective which I need to add more depth and make me a better starter."

Physically fit and with his game growing with each coaching session, McDonald is using the numerous positives he attained in Brooklyn, namely his stamina, as a confidence booster for 2008 which increasingly looks like it will begin in St. Lucie.

"I was able to stay physically strong all season down to the last game in Brooklyn, so I want that to repeat this year so I can avoid having to be shut down for a week or two. The season is a grind, so I'll need to have this conditioning all summer and maybe the playoffs," he said.

"Brooklyn really helped me understand that. Pitching in that atmosphere with the success I had, and the success we had as a team, let me know I can pitch at this level which will do even more for me this season," he continued.

However, even with all the work McDonald has committed to this off-season, returning to the starting rotation will provide its challenges. Aware of such challenges, he refuses to get ahead of himself as competition for starting roles across the organization is at its highest level in recent memory. As a result, McDonald remains open to whatever the future may have in store as he believes any route provides its positives.

"I'm willing to do what the organization wants me to do and I'm open to doing whatever gets me to the big leagues the fastest. Coming back into the starting role allows the organization to see I can do both as a starter and reliever. Adjusting to hitters at a higher level will be a test, and I'm looking forward to it, but the organization has also seen me succeed as a reliever. So, to me, it's a win-win situation," he concluded.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nDan McDonald, the Mets' eighth round pick in the 2007 Draft and Seton Hall alumni, received the opportunity to pitch close to his college stomping grounds by landing in the Cyclones bullpen last summer. Although the bullpen was jammed with fresh faces, each hurler got their opportunities to make an impression and McDonald did just that.
\r\n
\r\nIn the first half of the NY-Penn League season, McDonald was on point as he kept baserunners to a minimum, particularly base hits. He surrendered only seven hits in his first 18 innings pitched [14 outings] for a .117 opponent's batting average, striking out 23 along the way. Though he was a starter earlier in his college career, he believes his shift to the bullpen as a senior paved the way for such success.
\r\n
\r\n\"Being a reliever my last year was good for me because I was able to come in and pitch everyday,\" he said. \"I was in that mode when I got to Brooklyn so I was fresh enough to pitch when they needed me.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe finished the season with a 1-2 record, 3.16 ERA and just ten hits allowed in 25.2 innings pitched, but despite his success in relief, he went into the winter with plans on transforming back into a starting pitcher. While nothing is set in stone for the upcoming season, McDonald has the opportunity to change roles thanks to a strong repertoire which includes a 93-95 MPH four-seam fastball, a strong two-seam fastball, slider and changeup. It was the consistency of his pitches that dominated his off-season workouts as he kept an eye on opportunities ahead.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was focusing on my mechanics and the consistency with all my pitches, especially my fastball,\" said McDonald. \"If I can do that with my fastball, I'll get much more of an advantage on the hitter which will help make my changeup more effective which I need to add more depth and make me a better starter.\"
\r\n
\r\nPhysically fit and with his game growing with each coaching session, McDonald is using the numerous positives he attained in Brooklyn, namely his stamina, as a confidence booster for 2008 which increasingly looks like it will begin in St. Lucie.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was able to stay physically strong all season down to the last game in Brooklyn, so I want that to repeat this year so I can avoid having to be shut down for a week or two. The season is a grind, so I'll need to have this conditioning all summer and maybe the playoffs,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\n\"Brooklyn really helped me understand that. Pitching in that atmosphere with the success I had, and the success we had as a team, let me know I can pitch at this level which will do even more for me this season,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\nHowever, even with all the work McDonald has committed to this off-season, returning to the starting rotation will provide its challenges. Aware of such challenges, he refuses to get ahead of himself as competition for starting roles across the organization is at its highest level in recent memory. As a result, McDonald remains open to whatever the future may have in store as he believes any route provides its positives.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm willing to do what the organization wants me to do and I'm open to doing whatever gets me to the big leagues the fastest. Coming back into the starting role allows the organization to see I can do both as a starter and reliever. Adjusting to hitters at a higher level will be a test, and I'm looking forward to it, but the organization has also seen me succeed as a reliever. So, to me, it's a win-win situation,\" he concluded.
\r\n
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