The Braves claimed left-handed reliever Andrew McKirahan off waivers from the Marlins Wednesday, adding another lefty to the competition for a bullpen spot on the opening day roster.
McKirahan must remain on the Atlanta big league roster all season or be offered back to the Cubs, the original team for the pitcher. Miami took McKirahan in the Rule V Draft in December from Chicago.
McKirahan just turned 25 on February 8. He was Chicago's 21st round draft pick in the 2011 draft. McKirahan was a star pitcher for the Texas Longhorns in college, which had to be a dream come true for a kid from Georgetown, Texas.
In his four seasons in the Cubs' farm system, McKirahan was very successful. He had a 2.16 ERA in 89 games, all in relief. McKirahan allowed 96 hits in 120.2 innings, with 35 walks and 128 strikeouts.
McKirahan was very good last season. He had a 0.99 ERA in 23 games in High-A Daytona Beach, with eight saves. Then in Double-A Tennessee, McKirahan had a 3.45 ERA in 21 games, with two saves.
Surprisingly, McKirahan struggled against left-handed hitters last season. Lefties hit .301 against him, while right-handers hit only .203 against the southpaw.
McKirahan had Tommy John surgery in 2012, so last season was his first full season back from the injury.
The Braves obviously are intrigued with his stuff. Baseball America reported in its Prospect Handbook that McKirahan has a fastball that ranges from 92-96 mph, along with an average changeup. His breaking ball is listed as being inconsistent.
Baseball America rated McKirahan as Miami's 28th best prospect in its preseason rankings.
Since he was plucked off the waiver wire this close to the start of the season, the Braves obviously want to give McKirahan a chance in the big leagues. Why do this and then try to slide him back through the waiver wire and possibly lose him?
The Braves released James Russell last week. Josh Outman is having shoulder trouble and has been sent back to Atlanta for a MRI. The Braves have given Brady Feigl a strong look, and he's still got a chance, albeit not as good a chance now that McKirahan has been acquired.
So McKirahan could be yet another new name on the opening day roster. We'll see if the Braves make any additional moves before the start of the 2015 season.
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Braves claim McKirahan off waivers
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