JUPITER -- Andrew McKirahan just wants to take things one day at a time. While he is hoping to win a bullpen spot this spring, McKirahan refuses to look too far into the future. Instead, he is planning on keeping things simple.
"Keep it simple," McKirahan said of his expectations for himself as the Marlins prepare to open their spring schedule against Florida International University on Monday afternoon. "Obviously, the goal is to make the team and be a big leaguer, that's what you've always dreamed of. I have that in the rear view mirror, but at the end of the day it's about doing things right. I have the big picture in mind, but you have to keep it simple."
McKirahan, 25, was selected by the Marlins in December's Rule 5 draft. He saw time in both Single and Double-A in 2014, and struck out 7.9 hitters per nine innings. In 36.1 innings in Single-A, he posted a 0.99 ERA and 2.76 FIP. In 28.2 innings in Double-A, he posted a 3.45 ERA and 3.50 FIP. The Marlins do not have a preference with regard to the number of left-handed relievers they would like to carry in 2015, but President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill spoke favorably of McKirahan at last Saturday's Winter Warmup.
"McKirahan is very interesting," Hill said. "Power fastball, power breaking ball. Really looking forward to seeing how he performs in spring training."
Miami is still open to upgrading its bullpen, and has been linked to Phil Coke in recent weeks. After trading Dan Jennings to the White Sox at the Winter Meetings, the Marlins added McKirahan to give the club left-handed relief depth.
"This bullpen, this staff is pretty special," McKirahan said. "I've been here two weeks, and I can already tell the leadership, the maturity, the overall skill-set of these guys is pretty fun to watch year round on a day to day basis. They push me to work harder, and I look up to a lot of these guys."
While McKirahan said he enjoys watching closers pitch, he also is hoping to learn from Mike Dunn this spring. Dunn is "just kind of sitting back and watching him," but expects their conversations to pickup once spring games get underway.
"I've just been sitting back and kind of watching him right now," Dunn said of McKirahan. "I'm there if he wants to ask any questions. The conversation has been picking up the last few days, and once we really start facing hitters, that's when we are really going to see. He can be a very big asset to our bullpen. The kid throws hard. If his offspeed pitches are good, he is going to be a great addition to the 'pen."
McKirahan has traditionally had a reverse-platoon split, however heading into 2015, he is confident he can throw strikes to both right and left-handed hitters.
"Pitching is all mental," McKirahan said. "Right now I feel like I can get anybody out. At the end of the day it comes down to throwing strikes, and if you do that against lefties and righties, you're going to be pretty successful."
In order for the Marlins to retain McKirahan, he must remain on the 25-man roster throughout the course of the entire season. Brad Hand, who is out of options, may make the bullpen as Miami's long reliever, which could hurt McKirahan's chances of earning a roster spot.
"Just consistency and keeping my routine right," McKirahan said of what he feels needs to be done in order for him to make the team. "Taking care of myself on and off the field. I have to do the little things and be consistent. This is what you dream about. I'm excited and ready to get going."
McKirahan did not know what to expect after 2014, and is thankful the Marlins are giving him an opportunity to make the major league club. The Marlins will likely elect to carry 12 pitchers in 2015, with a significant amount of competition for few bullpen spots.
"I had this awesome opportunity [last season], and I'm excited these guys are giving me this opportunity," McKirahan said. "They've got a lot of energy and I've been very pleased and excited. One door closes and another one opens. This opportunity is awesome and I'm really excited for it."