EL notes: McFarland keeps on winning

Soft-throwing Aeros southpaw has age, victories on his side

By David Driver / Special to MLB.com | May 1, 2012 7:00 AM ET

T.J. McFarland doesn't throw very hard, and he's allowed more hits than innings pitched over his first four Minor League seasons. But the Akron left-hander, who does not turn 23 until June, continues to post victories and appears to have a bright future with the Indians.

"I feel like I've been competing well, and my age definitely helps me out big time," said McFarland, drafted in the fourth round in 2007 out of Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in suburban Chicago. "The Indians organization has been great with me and with everything they have taught me. I'm not sure where it will end up. We'll see how the rest of the year goes."

McFarland posted his fourth win Sunday, allowing seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings against Altoona in a 3-2 victory in the second game of a doubleheader. He allowed one walk with one strikeout and saved the Akron bullpen, which was needed in the 13-inning, 4-3 win in the opener.

In 28 1/3 innings this year, he has not allowed a homer while striking out 16 and walking nine.

"I don't throw the ball very hard," he said. "I focus on control and having hitters make contact and relying on the defense most of the game. I try to get ahead on the count and throw a changeup, slider and sinker for strikes in any count."

McFarland is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.22 in five starts and is tied with Reading's Trevor May (4-0) for the league lead in wins.

"He is a little bit better every year," said Ross Atkins, the Indians' vice president of player development. "That does not [always] translate into becoming a Major League pitcher, but with T.J. the fact he has been so competitive, always playing with players older than him, is certainly something we can and he can get excited about.

"He attacks the strike zone," added Atkins. "He puts the ball on the ground. He has an above-average ability to sink the ball, and he has a developing slider and developing changeup. The separator for him will be how aggressive he is with that changeup."

McFarland made two starts with Class A Advanced Kinston of the Carolina League in 2011 but spent most of the season with Akron, where he was 9-9 with an ERA of 3.87 in 25 starts. He began this year with a lifetime mark of 32-23, 3.75 in 456 innings and had allowed 477 hits and 150 walks with 335 strikeouts.

He was not discouraged to begin this year back with the Aeros.

"You know most of the hitters, since many of the hitters are repeating as well," he said.

McFarland grew up a White Sox fan and remembers seeing Chicago in a playoff game when he was younger. Perhaps one day he will be pitching in Chicago with the Indians.

"He got a lot better as the year went on last year," said Chris Tremie, the Akron manager. "He has a good sink on his fastball and sits at about 91. He has to continue to refine his pitches, and he has been pretty successful so far this year."

In brief

Center of attention: Prior to this season, Bowie's L.J. Hoes had played second, third and left field in the Minor Leagues. Now the Orioles have been using Hoes in center field on a daily basis with the Baysox. "He's been doing well, making the right decisions," said Gary Kendall, the Bowie manager. Hoes turned down a baseball scholarship at North Carolina to sign with the Orioles in 2008 after he was drafted in the third round. Hoes was hitting .287 in games through Sunday.

A solid bat: Chun-Hsiu Chen, a catcher last season for Akron, was signed out of Taiwan in 2007 by the Indians. He hit .262 with 16 homers last year with the Aeros and is back in Akron to start this season as a first baseman/designated hitter. "He is a right-handed bat with some power potential," said Ross Atkins, the Indians' vice president of player development. "We have not eliminated the catching position. We want to give him a break from the daily grind of catching." Chen hit .293 in his first 75 at bats.

Waiting for his turn: Trenton infielder David Adams was invited to his first big league Spring Training this year with the Yankees and had two hits in 11 at-bats. "It was definitely a great experience to hang out with veterans, especially Yankee veterans," said Adams. But after playing in three games with Trenton in early April, he went on the disabled list with a sore neck. "I am taking it day-by-day," said Adams, who hit .309 with Trenton in 2010.

David Driver is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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