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.
The Braves placed closer Arodys Vizcaino on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, per a team announcement on Sunday. The assignment is retroactive to June 21. While the right-hander will be eligible to return to the team within the week, it’s not clear yet how long his recovery will take.
Vizcaino, 27, has already been sidelined a week after experiencing discomfort in his right shoulder. While he was treated with a cortisone injection earlier this month, it doesn’t appear to have had the effect the Braves were hoping for. The injury derailed what has otherwise been a productive season for the right-hander: Through his first 30 appearances, he logged 15 saves with a 1.82 ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 10.0 SO/9 over 29 2/3 innings. Per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, the club is prepared to give more closing duties to rookie left-hander A.J. Minter as Vizcaino takes some time to recover, though it seems conceivable that the up-and-coming Evan Phillips will earn a few looks in the spot as well.
In corresponding moves, infielder Phil Gosselin was designated for assignment and right-hander Phillips was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. The 23-year-old righty is poised to make his major league debut after four years in the Braves’ system. He currently sports a 2.31 ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 12.9 SO/9 through 35 innings at the Triple-A level this season.