StrategyAugust 23, 2009

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Recent MLB Call-Ups: Neftali Feliz

By Bryan L. Schubert

Hello Cafe members and welcome to this week’s edition of Recent MLB Call-Ups. This series highlights one recent minor-leaguer’s call to the big club. Whether you are looking for a guy with a long-term keeper potential for a dynasty league, or help getting a jump on all the owners in your league scouring the waiver wire for a player to help contribute during your playoff run, I am here to provide analysis to determine if the guy you have your eye on is worth that waiver priority.

Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers, Age 21

This time of the year, major-league teams are calling up their top prospects to get them a taste at the next level. Most of the attention is focused on hitters and starting pitching. However, often underrated is the impact of pitching prospects summoned up to the majors and placed into the bullpen. Texas called up their number one prospect on August 2 and wasted no time getting him into the action. The following day he appeared in two innings of relief, for Dustin Nippert, striking out four and not allowing a single base runner.

In eight relief appearances since getting called up, Feliz has been absolutely dominant! He has pitched 14.1 innings, allowing one earned run and striking out 19, and has showed incredible control in only walking one batter. His only blemish is a two-run home run he gave up to Adam Kennedy in his second appearance on August 5, though Vicente Padilla was responsible for the runner Mark Ellis. The young fireballer has touched 100 miles per hour and has proven thus far to be devastating against hitters late in the game. The Rangers seem to be keeping a short leash on Feliz, as he has yet to appear in back-to-back games. With Feliz destined for the starting rotation, possibly as soon as next year, Texas will be best served preserving their potential future ace.

Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers 2009 Statistics


The Dominican-born Feliz was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2005 and made 11 appearances with five starts the following year at the rookie level. In 2007 he made seven starts, plus one relief appearance, for the Danville Braves (Rookie) going 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 1.09 WHIP before being involved in a huge trade that sent Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay to the Braves in exchange for Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones. Feliz then finished out the 2007 season with the Spokane Indians of the short-season Northwest League with seven of his eight appearances in relief (15 innings pitched, 3.60 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and 27 strikeouts).

Last year, Feliz spent the first three months in Single-A Clinton before getting called-up to the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. He spent his time in 2008 impressing at both levels, starting the season with the Clinton Lumber Kings and compiling a 6-3 record, striking out 106 batters and walking 28 over 82 innings, with a 2.52 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Feliz got the call to Double-A in early July and while his strikeout rate decreased a bit, he continued to pitch well. Finishing out the season in Frisco he only posted a 4-3 record, but ended with a 2.98 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, striking out 47 in 45.1 innings.

At the start of this season, Feliz was in Oklahoma City pitching in Triple-A for almost four months before getting the call-up to join the Rangers bullpen. In his 25 appearances, including 13 starts, he was not as overwhelming as the year prior in Double-A and Single-A, but his resume is impressive thus far at a young age.

Neftali Feliz – Oklahoma RedHawks (Triple-A) 2009 Statistics


He is a top-of-the-line prospect and should be owned in any dynasty league format. As it stands for this year, the only value that Feliz can provide from a fantasy perspective is as a source of holds, but a great one at that. If holds are a category in your league and Feliz has not been picked up, you should grab him immediately. While many could see Feliz as a dominating closer he is currently behind current closer Frank Francisco and C.J. Wilson for that role. In addition, due in large part to his ace potential, there appear to be no signs grooming him for a role outside of a starter.

Feliz should continue to provide the Rangers with great relief work during their playoff push for the remainder of the season. Next year should be a bit of a different story. Texas could probably place him into the starting rotation and begin to watch his rise to the top as their ace for the short-term and long-term.

I would love to hear from you, loyal members of the Cafe, so please PM me with any comments or questions. Talk to you next time, meanwhile I will keep an eye on those transaction reports!

Bryan L. Schubert is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Bryan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Ninja BlackSox.
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