Prospect Previews: Starting Pitcher #4

4)   Neftali Feliz —  19 YO RHP (2007 Trade Acquisition)

The PECOTA similarity rating on the Baseball Prospectus website indicates that the two pitchers most similar to Feliz at the same age are Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez and Joel Zumaya.   BP‘s Kevin Goldstein considers Feliz to be the Rangers only "Five Star" talent.

Works for me.

It continues to boggle my mind that Jon Daniels was able to pry this guy away from Atlanta after already having coaxed John Schuerholtz into putting Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison on the table.  This was no "afterthought."   Baseball America ranked Feliz as the #8 prospect in the GCL in 2006 and  #4 among Appy Leaguers in 2007.

The long (6’3"), lean (180 lbs.), Feliz fires off mid-to-high 90’s heat with late boring action (which is what separates him from the likes of Juan Morillo) from a clean, loose-armed delivery that he struggles to repeat at times.    As you might imagine, he loves his heater to the extent that he’s neglected his secondary pitches.  His breaking ball gets very good reviews, but it is evidently seen in public only slightly more often than J.D. Salinger.   As for changing speeds,  Feliz has two:   unbelievably hard, and then harder than that.

Feliz fanned 13.03 per 9 innings during his swim through the GCL in 2006 and 16.2 per nine  — yeah,  16.2 — for Spokane NWL in 2007.   In 82.1 minor league innings to date, he’s held opponents to a .198 batting average and surrendered two homers.   Two.

Feliz can probably get away with dealing almost nothing but cheese and still put up "sexy" numbers until he hits Triple-A, but he won’t be doing himself any favors if he decides to go that way.    The MWL shouldn’t be any kind of a challenge for him and I expect him to make it to Bakersfield by July.   Probably the only thing that will keep him from reaching Frisco by the end the year will be the Rangers’ own memory of what that sort of rush job did to Edinson Volquez and Juan Dominguez.

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