Ferrell looks to contribute right away
Rule 5 Draft pick eager to make impact on bullpen
JUPITER — Riley Ferrell treated Dec. 13 like any other day.
Pitching in the Houston Astros organization at the time, the right-hander showed up to the team facility that afternoon for workouts ‘‘ready to rock and roll.’’
Further west in Las Vegas, the MLB Rule 5 Draft was simultaneously taking place and Ferrell’s name had been rumored in mock drafts as a potential candidate.
While Ferrell went about his business and avoided speculation, the Marlins jumped on the opportunity to nab the right-hander, taking him with their first-round selection.
“I was excited obviously,” Ferrell said. “I didn’t really know what to think. I kind of waited to hear back from the organization. They say it’s a great opportunity. Hopefully I can do something to help the team win.”
Under Rule 5 requirements, Ferrell must spend the entire season on the Marlins 25-man roster or he’ll be re-
turned to the Astros.
While he hasn’t made his big-league debut yet, Ferrell fits the profile Miami’s looking for in the bullpen. With a fastball hovering in the mid-90s and a strong slider, the
25-year-old brings a power arm to the Marlins organization.
Ferrell split last season between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno. At Corpus Christi, he posted a 1.90 ERA,
1.35 WHIP and .171 opposing batting average in 232⁄3 innings. At Fresno, his ERA increased to 6.75 with opponents hitting
.296 off him in 28 innings.
“The transition from Double-A to Triple-A was pretty big,” Ferrell said. “I had been in Corpus Christi for a year and a half — facing the same hitters that are not willing to change their approach.
“It got a little easier for me, but going to Triple-A and figuring out guys who have approaches for guys who throw like me and are a little more experienced for guys who have stuff like me made it a lot more challenging. Toward the end of the year, I started figuring it out a little more and got on a little bit of a role and I finished strong.”
While he’s with a new organization, Ferrell’s excited about the opportunity at hand. After speaking with new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. for about 30 minutes a few weeks ago, that feeling only amplified.
“[Stottlemyre] was telling me he’s done a little homework and research on me and that really excited me — that he’s got all these guys and to put together a plan that’s going to give me the most success,” Ferrell said.
The new guy in the clubhouse, Ferrell said he’s still getting acquainted with his new teammates as he undergoes the tedious task of learning the names of the 68 other players in camp.
“I’m not doing too well on that part,” he said with a laugh.
Ferrell does have a familiar face behind the plate in fellow Texan Bryan Holaday. While they’ve never been teammates, both played at TCU — Holaday finished his career three years before Ferrell arrived — and have trained at the same offseason facility for three years.
While his Rule 5 requirements may seemingly give him an edge on paper, nothing is guaranteed in the Marlins’ revamped bullpen — and Ferrell is ready for the spring competition.
“If it was just competing against yourself in the game and not against anybody else or chasing anybody, I don’t think it’d be as fun,” Ferrell said. “I’m definitely exited to see what everyone’s got.”
Since the team’s only been in camp four days, Marlins manager Don Mattingly has only seen him throw one bullpen session, but he’s looking forward to seeing more.
“[Ferrell’s] a physical kid,” Mattingly said. “He’s going to get a good look. [He’s] a guy with good stuff and a guy we’re excited about.”
Newcomer Riley Ferrell hopes to make an impact in the Marlins bullpen this season.