3/11/2013 12:34 P.M. ET
Rule 5 pick McFarland beginning to showcase talent
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- New Orioles left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland only has to look across the clubhouse to see a Rule 5 Draft pick success story.
"Yeah, it gives me some hope for sure," McFarland, picked from the Cleveland Indians this winter, said of a Baltimore camp that was able to keep infielder Ryan Flaherty, a 2011 Rule 5 pick, on the roster and in the organization last season. "Last year, obviously he had a great camp, I think that was one of the reasons why he did stick. That's all I'm trying to do right now is have a good camp, see what happens there. I can't really control anything else."
After getting off to a slow start, McFarland is beginning to show what he can do. When he arrived in Sarasota last month, the 23-year-old lefty was out of sync and -- after getting some time to get adjusted -- he worked with pitching coach Rick Adair on getting back in line and getting his hip pointed more toward home plate. The recent realignment has paid off, most recently with two scoreless innings on Sunday.
"The last three outings I think we've seen more of what we had hoped when we took him," manager Buck Showalter said of McFarland, who won 16 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year. "Rick was trying not to do anything for a couple of outings and he had gotten to the point where you could tell he was out of whack and you can see now the sync and the command. He was pretty good. I'm glad we were patient."
So is McFarland, who was struggling to show what he could do in an unfamiliar organization.
"It was a little nerve-wracking obviously, going out there and not being yourself," he said. "But as soon as you find it you realize, 'OK this is where I'm at. This is where I need to be.' Your confidence just skyrockets, you can just roll with it. That's what I'm hoping to do. Two innings is just two innings, but I hope to build from those two solid innings and go from there."
Bad habit now behind him, McFarland is an intriguing option for the Orioles. Baltimore has a wealth of pitching depth but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette thought the cost-effective move was to give the young lefty a look. McFarland has to stay on the roster the entire season to remain in the Orioles' organization and this spring he can't tinker with too much since he has to win a job.
"It's tough, me being a Rule 5 [pick] and everything. I am trying to make the team essentially," he said. So for me to change something drastic in Spring Training is going to be kind of hard. So that's why Rick was able to find something small to kind of get me back to where I need to be and it worked. Something small, but it went a long way."
Asked if McFarland could be a bullpen option, Showalter said "potentially," although he is still being viewed as a starter in camp. With a host of rotation candidates needing to be stretched out, McFarland will be one of several pitchers sent to the Minor League facility at Twin Lakes Park to get his work in, and Showalter said he could possibly start one of those games.
"You can tell he feels so much better about himself," Showalter said of the renewed confidence in McFarland. "He was able to show us what he can do."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.