As thrilled as he is to be playing professional baseball for his hometown team, the Kannapolis Intimidators, Daniel Wagner remains focused on one thing and one thing only: Making it to "The Show."
"This isn't my goal. It's not my goal to be playing here," said Wagner, who started at second base in the team's first home stand of the season against the Rome Braves. Against Rome, batting leadoff, Wagner had six hits and two RBIs.
"My goal is to be playing in the Major Leagues. This is just part of the deal, and it just so happens that I'm playing in my hometown."
Wagner, selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 16th round of June's First-Year Player Draft (493rd overall), fondly remembers his days growing up just two miles from Fieldcrest-Cannon Stadium.
"I lived so close to here, I could see the fireworks from my house," Wagner said.
"My final summer playing (South Rowan) Legion ball in 2006 really stands out for me. I still have all my friends that I played high school and legion ball with, and they follow me and I talk to them all the time."
Wagner's mother and father, Julie and Rocky Wagner, have even opened their home to a number of Kannapolis players this season. Besides Wagner, five other players reside at his parent's residence, and another lives at his uncle's house.
"We were playing a basketball game the other day, and I looked around and my parents' (place) looked like an orphanage," said Wagner.
After a standout career playing high school baseball at South Rowan - where he led the team in batting, home runs and stolen bases his senior season - he played three years at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
In his final season at Belmont, the left-handed hitter had 10 home runs, 57 RBIs and 24 stolen bases while batting .323.
Wagner also became the 25th player in Belmont school history to be drafted.
Wagner made his professional debut for the White Sox's minor league affiliate in Bristol, Va.
Wagner played second base in 56 games and then was called up to Class A Kannapolis for the final 11 games of the season. "It's definitely a surreal feeling. I'm getting used to being around all these guys and getting used to playing professional baseball," he said.
While Wagner isn't the most imposing player on the team at just 6 feet and 185 pounds, his work ethic seems second to none.
The 21-year-old realizes playing a 142-game schedule in the South Atlantic League is not going to be easy.
"This will be my first full season and I'm looking forward to it," said Wagner.
"I don't know necessarily what that's going to be like. I'm sure it's going to be tough on the body. I'll grind it out and I'm definitely excited."
Intimidators manager Ernie Young likes what he sees in the young ballplayer.
"He came up last year and his swing looked pretty good then and in spring training this year, he looks even more comfortable," said Young.
"I think he will really get after it this year. He's getting a lot better at second base and he's going to be fine. He's going to play second base every day. I'm expecting to start him for all 142 games."