McDonald Ready to Have it His Way With Opposing Hitters
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Sunday, March 2, 2008
Originally drafted by the Mets in the 45th round of the 2004 amateur draft, prospect Dan McDonald decided to go to college, rather than start his professional baseball career after High School. The Mets obviously liked what they saw from the Rockaway, New Jersey-native and drafted him again in last year’s draft, this time in eighth round. McDonald didn’t let the organization down either, striking out 30 hitters in 25.2 innings and posting a solid 3.16 ERA with their Single-A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones.
This season however, looks to be a different one for McDonald. In his first full season with the organization, McDonald is out of college and has had to prepare himself for Spring Training. That’s pretty different from joining the team in June and having only a few weeks to get acclimated to professional baseball. Nonetheless, he’s ready for the challenge and thinks he’ll be able to adjust just fine.
“There’s a lot more free time, so you have to manage your time different,” said McDonald, who held opposing hitters to a measly .116 batting average last season in Brooklyn. “I don’t have class anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I can sleep in all day either. It’s just a completely different schedule, but I think the workouts are pretty much same though.”
Another challenge McDonald will have this season is keeping himself composed on the mound. Despite his relatively laid-back approach and demeanor, there were times last season where he looked extremely erratic. With the recent trade of Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber to Minnesota as part of the Johan Santana trade, the totem pole of promising young pitchers Mets farm system isn’t nearly as tall as it used to be as well. A pitcher with the ability of McDonald could easily get cocky and not work as hard as he has to and still move through the organization at a decent speed. Nevertheless, McDonald believes he’s learned from his bumps and bruises last season and is focused on letting everyone know what he can do on the field.
“I really just take things one day at a time and focus on what I have to do in order to be successful,” McDonald said. “My whole goal is to stay healthy and be productive when I’m called upon and I can’t control the other things going on around me. I always try to have the kind of mindset. All I can do is try to move up the ladder at my own pace and not be focused on anyone else.”
However, despite his focused approach to moving through the organization, McDonald prides himself on being a good teammate as well. Sharing the Brooklyn closing duties for the first half of the season with Steven Clyne, McDonald never complained when his playing time diminished down the stretch. Unlike many younger players, McDonald knows that sacrifices have to be made in order to play on a winning team.
“We had such a good comradery on the team,” said McDonald. “I didn’t expect all of us to get so close so fast. At first, I thought everyone was going to be very individualistic, but we all clicked. There wasn’t a competition among us; we were all pushing each other to do our best. When someone went into a game, we supported him and rooted for him. We all wanted to get better.”
And no one wanted to get better last season than McDonald.
Featuring an electric slider, a plus fastball and a solid changeup in his arsenal of pitches, McDonald knows that he has the tools to take down hitters in any league he pitches in. However, while no one will ever second guess his talent, they will question his ability to maintain it. Walking 20 hitters in 20 appearances last season, McDonald knows he has to work on his consistency.
Above everything else, that may be his biggest challenge this season.
“My number one goal is to stay healthy and to last the season without any setbacks,” McDonald said. “It’s a grind all season, because it’s so long. You always want to stay in a gray area, never get too high or too low, so I want to try and be as consistent as possible. I’m also trying to be more consistent with my fastball, changeup and slider. I want to be able to throw them in any situation. I really want to make a long-season team this season and I know I have to be consistent to do that.”