Neftali Feliz is being Demoted

Neftali Feliz, recently invited to the Futures Game was rated among Baseball America’s 10th best prospect coming into this season and the Rangers overall first.

Spending last year between High-A and Double-A, the right-handed Feliz absolutely dominated during the first half while in High-A Clinton. The move up to Double-A encountered some difficulties as expected for someone his age as the strikeouts dropped and the walks rose. Feliz also lost a lot of luster off his shiny ground ball rate, falling from 51% to 38%.

Starting this season out with another promotion, this time to in Triple-A Oklahoma, Feliz has seen his ground ball rate settle in at 44%, about halfway between this two rates last season. The strikeouts have fallen again, now down to 21% of batters faced from his High-A mark of 33%, but he has managed to trim down the walks from 12% to 10% over his Double-A numbers. All in all, it looked encouraging from a person regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

And then this happened:

“We’d like to see if he’s an option to help the Major League club in that role,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “He’s scheduled to throw an inning there tomorrow. We still feel he may start for us in the future but we’re going down that road first.”

That quote is concerning the move of Feliz to the bullpen, nominally in order to get him up to Texas faster. There is just no way this is a good idea. Feliz’s weakness has been in his secondary stuff and moving him to the bullpen will only stunt his development along those fronts. It seems that the Rangers are seriously jeopardizing Feliz’s future as a starter in order to try and provide aid to the Rangers league-worst bullpen. I have news for you Texas, your rotation sucks too. Unless there is something more going on, like a health concern, moving Feliz to the bullpen solely to get him to the big leagues faster, when he is already doing fine in Triple-A, is just plain silly and short-sighted.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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