Feliz to Frisco.
It’s commonly said that the biggest jump in the minor leagues is to Class AA. And that’s assuming the jumping point is High A.
According to the Dallas Morning News, 20-year-old righthander Neftali Feliz is being challenged in a way that Ian Kinsler was challenged four summers ago, as the organization is asking him to make the biggest jump in the minor leagues from two levels down. He’s on his way from Clinton, Iowa to Frisco, Texas.
This ought not to be a cameo appearance (Omar Poveda in 2006, Evan Reed earlier this season). Feliz leaves the Midwest League with a 6-3, 2.52 record in 17 starts, 106 strikeouts and 28 walks in 82 innings, a 1.64 G/F rate, two home runs allowed, a .193/.277/.281 opponents’ line, and that “flat-out, God-given gasoline” that scouts described his stuff as before he was traded from Atlanta to Texas last July in the Mark Teixeira deal. And lest you think he’s been getting by against Low A hitters strictly on the strength of his upper-90s velocity, the fact that left-handed hitters (.174/.262/.242, no home runs in 149 at-bats) have had a measurably tougher time against Feliz than righties (.213/.294/.324, two home runs in 136 at-bats) demonstrates that his change-up is better than just good, and makes that effortless fastball even gasolinier.
This is a big jump. Kinsler went from a .402/.465/.692 21-year-old hitter in Clinton to “just” a .300/.400/.480 22-year-old hitter in Frisco in 2004. The competition that Feliz is about to face is substantially better than what he’s gone up against, but even if he’s not as dominating as a RoughRider as he was as a LumberKing, that’s not the measure. The Rangers think he’s ready for this challenge, and the way this organization’s player development machine is firing right now, the fact that they think he’s ready is all I need to know.
Feliz says so long to the Midwest League as its strikeout leader. I’m fired up to see how he’ll introduce himself to the Texas League.