As a Braves fan I was deeply concerned when among the cadre of prospects traded to bring Mark Teixeira to Turner Field was Neftali Feliz. At the time Feliz was a 19 year old flame thrower with a toasty fastball but suspect command. However, he had that whiff of something special about him. And although Salty was the centerpiece of the trade many Braves fans feared that losing Feliz was a longer term blow to the organisation.
Last night against the Red Sox I had a chance to see Feliz in action for the first time. Suffice to say he looks like he knows what he’s doing. His K/9 is over 16 and his ERA is a lowly 1.04.
Okay, we’re in the land of small sample size — the guy has only hurled 8 innings. On early evidence he throws hard, has a couple of pitches and has good command.
Here is what he has thrown so far (speed in parentheses):
FB 72.7% (98.1 mph) CB 17.2% (81.4mph) CU 10.1%(88.9mph)
When he was in the minors he got by on his fastball — his curve and change were so-so pitches. In his recent dominance against the Sox his curve looked like it was close to a plus pitch although the change still needs a little work.
If he can master the change there is no reason why Feliz can’t be a number 1 or 2 starter. Watch this space.