Welcome To The Majors Neftali Feliz…

The Texas Rangers develop pitchers about as often as people from Nebraska order the vegetarian special at a restaurant. I mean, if you really think about it who was the last top pitching prospect that the Rangers developed and actually pitched for Texas? Roger Pavlik? Bobby Witt?

Even some of the pitchers they do develop, like Edison Volquez and John Danks don’t even end up pitching for the Rangers. It hasn’t been pretty when it comes to pitching in Texas. Well, I think that might all just change with Neftali Feliz.

Feliz knows how to make an entrance

Feliz knows how to make an entrance

The Rangers acquired Feliz in 2007 along with Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones in the Mark Teixeira trade (now you know why teams are holding on to their prospects these days). Since then, the Rangers have developed Feliz into one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.

Feliz made his major-league debut on Monday against the Oakland A’s and what a debut it was. Throwing fastballs that touched 100 mph on occasion, Feliz struck out the first four batters he faced in the majors. Talk about making an entrance.

Feliz has started for the most part in the minors, but started pitching out of the bullpen this year in Triple-A and that will be his role with the Rangers. Perhaps Feliz can have the same impact on the Rangers that Francisco Rodriguez had with the Los Angeles of Anaheim in 2003.

Here are some other facts about Neftali Feliz…

Age: 21

College: None

Drafted: Not drafted. Signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves in 2005.

Minor League Stats

2006 Rookie: 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA and 42 K’s in 29 IP.

2007 Rookie & Single A: 2-2 with a 2.55 ERA and 55 K’s in 42.1 IP.

2008 Single A & Double A: 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA and 153 K’s in 127.1 IP.

2009 Triple A: 4-6 with a 3.49 ERA and 75 K’s in 77.1 IP.

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: No. Four out of the top 100 best prospects in baseball

Analysis: “Feliz was something of a known quantity last offseason, having come over to Texas in the Mark Teixeira trade, but he was just a very live arm with no full-season experience and only 72 pro innings in total. He started 2008 by obliterating Midwest League hitters and continued to miss bats after a two-level jump to Double-A.

Coming from a low 3/4 slot, Feliz has some of the easiest velocity you will ever see, mostly 94-97 mph but dialing up and down a little as needed. He turns his changeup over well, especially considering his arm slot, and gets good fading action on it, so it’s not surprising that his strikeout rate against left-handed hitters was 28 percent higher than it was against right-handed hitters.

His slider is still inconsistent; it’s short, a good sign for someone who has a little bit of sling in his delivery, but the pitch can back up on him. He’ll have to return to Double-A this year and refine his command and control, since he can’t just blow it by hitters as he did in low A, but he could also show up in the majors at some point in 2009 depending on his own progress and the Rangers’ place in the standings.”

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