“I’d like to win more games than we won last year,” McFarland said of returning to Staten Island. “Hopefully I can improve all aspects of my game [too].”
McFarland, 23, was selected by the New York Yankees in the 10th round of the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft out of James Madison University. The Virginia native had a solid professional debut season last year, hitting .278 with 5 home runs and 40 RBIs in 62 games with Staten Island and being named a New York Penn League mid-season All-Star.
First year manager Pat Osborn, who coached in the Gulf Coast League last year, is optimistic that McFarland will play a big part on the team this year while improving himself as a player.
“Ty’s a good player,” Osborn said. “He obviously had an All-Star year last year and he’s going to contribute in a big way. There’s at-bats [for him] here. He’s a guy who needs to play every day and get at bats, and this just happens to be where it’s going to be at.”
Early this year, McFarland, who was entering his first full season, suffered from a nagging back injury that forced him to miss all of Spring Training and the first four weeks if the season too.
“It’s definitely hard when you’re watching all of your friends leave their affiliates and start playing baseball,” McFarland said. “It’s a little frustrating, but I try to take it day by day working with the great athletic training staff that we have.”
McFarland began baseball activities such as playing catch and swinging a bat in mid-March which led to a rehab stint with the Yankees in Extended Spring Training.
“It felt really good. I started rehabbing in Extended Spring Training,” McFarland said. “I was really thankful just to get back out there on the field with those guys.”
Four weeks into the season, McFarland was reinstated from the disabled list and assigned to the low-A Charleston, where he played only seven games, hitting .250.
“I wasn’t there for too long but I had some good at bats there,” McFarland said. “I was hitting the ball hard. I wasn’t even there for a week so you can’t really judge yourself after that.”
Shortly after being assigned to Charleston, McFarland was sent up to high-A Tampa where he struggled, playing in only 14 games in which he batted .157 with three extra-base hits in 51 at-bats.
“I had heard that there were some injuries throughout the organization so I knew there was a possibility of being sent there," McFarland said of the quick promotion. "I was definitely a little surprised because I was only in Charleston for about a week.
“It’s all baseball and it’s all pretty similar but my weakness up there was that I was chasing pitcher’s pitches rather than looking for a hitter’s count and hacking away at good hitter’s pitches.”
Last year in Staten Island, McFarland spent most of his playing time at second base but has since been moved away from the position, likely as a result of his recent back injury. In Charleston and Tampa, McFarland played six games at first base, three games at third and 12 games as the designated hitter.
“I think our plan is to play a couple different positions and kind of see where I settle in,” McFarland said. “They told me that I need to work on some things. I think everyone knows that I need to work on my glove and I have a few things that I need to work on with the bat too.”
McFarland’s last game with Tampa was on June 4th and there was speculation that this was also caused by his recurring back issue.
“It wasn’t a back issue,” McFarland said. “I think they were just getting the rosters straightened out because of the draft and these four [short-season league] teams starting up.”
In fact, the back really isn't an issue at this point. According to McFarland, he feels fine and ready for the season ahead.
“It felt pretty good once we got it straightened out.”
Some may view the transition from Charleston, to Tampa and finally back down to Staten Island as a demotion. However, McFarland believes that as a player it is dangerous to think that way and is not at all disappointed with his most recent assignment to Staten Island.
“I just go where they tell me and work on what they tell me," he admitted. "If you get wrapped up in what level you’re at, you’re going to drive yourself crazy so I just focus on playing baseball every day.”
Osborne would agree with McFarland’s opinion and makes a strong effort to teach this to his players who may be feeling distraught about being sent down to Staten Island.
“You can’t look at that as a demotion. If you do that, then it’s going to affect your play on the field,” Osborne said. “We tell these guys not to look at it like that it’s a way for you to get reps. Hopefully they can take advantage of that, get out of here and move on up.”
McFarland Focused On Getting At-Bats
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