The Miami Marlins took a chance in December’s Rule 5 Draft by selecting left hander Andrew McKirahan from the Chicago Cubs organization.
Last year through stints at high Single-A and Double-A McKirahan had a 2.08 ERA and a 1.092 WHIP across 65 innings. At age 24 he struck out 7.9 hitters per nine innings and showed good control with a 1.9 BB/9 while surrendering just four total home runs in 2014.
After the Rule 5 Draft, Baseball America had this to say about Miami’s selection:
"Scouting Report: A reliever at Texas, McKirahan had Tommy John surgery in 2012 that cost him much of two seasons. After a slow start, McKirahan showed a 93-96 mph late in the season. He needs to improve his fringy breaking ball, but he’s a power arm who has proven he can get out righthanders.Chances To Stick: Low."
For the Marlins to retain McKirahan’s services, he must stay on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Cubs, per Rule 5 rules.
Could the Marlins give McKirahan a chance to stick with the big league club in 2015?
He could potentially be a replacement for Dan Jennings, who the Marlins traded to the Chicago White Sox in the offseason. Jennings was effective for the Fish last year, with a 1.34 ERA, 3.48 FIP and 38 strikeouts in 40.1 innings out of the bullpen. Jennings was the second lefty out of the ‘pen behind Mike Dunn, who isn’t going anywhere, as the Marlins just signed him to a two-year contract extension.
Brad Hand is also a candidate to be the second left hander in the bullpen, but also has a chance to be the Marlins fifth starter.
McKirahan making the club out of Spring Training definitely seems like a long shot. The Marlins have plenty of arms that will compete for just a few bullpen roles. Certain locks for the bullpen include Dunn, A.J. Ramos, Bryan Morris and closer Steve Cishek. That leaves two ‘pen spots to be decided between the likes of Carter Capps, Preston Claiborne, Aaron Crow, Andre Rienzo and Sam Dyson, all of whom have prior big league experience. David Phelps, who came over from the Yankees in the Nathan Eovaldi trade, will get a shot to pitch either as a starter or reliever.
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McKirahan’s left handedness should work to his advantage, but the Marlins bullpen situation is just too crowded to give him a real shot at making the club. It’s likely that he will be demoted and subsequently offered back to the Cubs, who do have the option to decline taking him back. The teams would then need to work out a trade the Marlins to retain McKirahan in their minor league system.
The Marlins have taken several chances in the Rule 5 Draft over the years. Most recently, in 2012 the team selected power-hitting outfielder Alfredo Silverio from the Dodgers. Silverio piddled around in the Marlins minors for a couple years, but never reached the major leagues. He is currently a free agent.
Most notably, the Marlins took a waiver on Dan Uggla in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. Uggla made the club as the starting second baseman in 2006, and stuck around with the team for five years. In that time he slugged 154 home runs, which still stands as the most in Marlins history.