I ran into Jim Callis and John Manuel, the editors of Baseball America, a few minutes ago.
The duo knows minor league baseball and its players as well as anybody, so I asked them about T.J. McFarland, the 23-year-old left-handed pitcher that the Orioles just selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Cleveland Indians.
McFarland, a sinkerball/slider pitcher who throws his fastball in the high 80s, went 16-8 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 combined starts at Double-A and Triple-A in the Indians' system in 2012. The Orioles acquired him for $50,000 in the draft and will have to offer him back at half the price if McFarland does not stay on the Orioles' 25-man roster all season.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said McFarland will get a chance to compete for a roster -- and rotation spot -- in the spring.
Here's what Callis and Manuel had to say about McFarland.
Callis: "I think he has a chance to make the team. It's not like you are really having to stretch to believe to say this guy could be a (No.) 5 or maybe a 4 starter. ... I don't think he is a high-ceiling guy, but he could be a back of the rotation guy. It cost, what, $50,000 if you're wrong. ... He's not one of those guys who is in low class A who throws 95 mph with no command."
Manuel: "I think he has a chance to stick, I think he was one of the more reasonable picks in terms of chances to stick on a major league roster. ... He's had success in the upper levels, he's pitched in Triple-A. He had a good August in Triple-A if you look at his numbers. ... He's probably not a guy who profiles as someone you ever want to start a playoff game for you. But can he be a guy who makes 25 or 30 starts, can he pitch 175 innings and be a fifth starter on a team that has really good infield defense like Baltimore? I think that is possible. I think that is a reasonable expectation. ... In the Rule 5 draft, it was considered a success when (the Orioles) got 150 at-bats and a couple playoff starts out of a guy that hit .216 and played second base for them. I think McFarland is in that same realm as Ryan Flaherty. He's a guy whose ceiling is not too high, especially in that first year, but it is reasonable to expect him to make your team and contribute as a fifth starter."