eneral manager Jon Daniels announced
this morning that top prospect Neftali Feliz is moving from the
rotation to the bullpen at Triple-A, signaling that the Rangers have
him in their plans as a reliever for the second half.
“We’d like to see if he’s an option to help the major-league club in
that role,” Daniels said. “We still feel he may start for us in the
future, but we’re going to go down this path first.”
Letting young pitchers get their feet wet in the majors as relievers
is never a bad idea and Feliz has averaged under five innings per start
at Triple-A, so if he’s going to help the Rangers down the stretch the
bullpen makes sense. With that said, hopefully Daniels and company
haven’t given up on the notion of Feliz being a starter long term.
In terms of raw stuff Feliz is second-to-none among minor-league pitchers and Baseball America ranked him
as the 10th-best prospect in all of baseball after he posted a 2.69 ERA
with 153 strikeouts in 127 innings between Single-A and Double-A as a
20-year-old in 2008.
Feliz hasn’t been nearly as dominant at Triple-A this season,
posting a 3.86 ERA with shaky control and “only” 55 strikeouts in 60.2
innings, but his performance has actually been exceptional for a
21-year-old in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League where the
average player is five years his senior.