(Note from Grey: Stephen, who you may recognize from his comments, will be doing a weekly feature about fantasy baseball prospects down on the farm. Enjoy…)
Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers – SP at AAA
The hidden gem in the Teixeira summer rental/trade from the Atlanta Braves back in 2007 (Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Salty, Beau Jones, and Feliz for Teixeira and Ron Mahey) is starting to live up to his silent hype (pretty sure that trade is textbook fleecing). Ranked by Baseball America as the 10th top prospect in the minors and the top prospect in the Rangers system is the quietest arm in the minors. That is pretty impressive with the high talent depth of the Rangers farm. Everyone talks about Hanson and Price, but where does Feliz fall then? There must be reason that the pitching starved Rangers haven’t called him up yet.
Feliz may be happy, but his manager must swear he’s bi-polar watching this mighty fine talent. Despite his lack of control (4.2 BB/9 career minor league), the eye popping K-rate (11 K/9 career) makes anyone drool. This season the K-rate is 9.4K/9, but the walks have raised to 5.3BB/9. It is the walks that are killing his rise to the big show. Price is sitting at 9.2k/9 but has been walking 4 batters per. Hanson has a 12k/9 and a 2.5BB/9 to his name. But what Feliz has going for him is he has only allowed 6 homers in 229 innings. Even more impressive is he has only allowed one, yes 1, this year and he is pitching in the PCL league. For those who do not know the PCL, or the Pacific Coast League, its like the homerun derby for top hitting prospects. However, Tim Lincecum earned a 14K/9 back in 2007.
Having recently turn 21, Feliz has plenty of time to improve his control, but how long does Texas allow their prized pitcher stay in AAA? More like, are the Rangers for real this year? Sitting atop the West, Texas might rush Feliz to the bigs sometime in the near future. No pitcher is safe to stay healthy… ever! Plus, Arlington destroys pitchers, though if he can keep that homerun ratio the same and cut his walks he may thrive sooner rather than latter. But buyers beware. I would not use a waiver priority on Feliz unless you have had your Pepcid AC for the day. Or if your WHIP is, well, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!
Andrew McCutchen – Pittsburgh Pirates – OF at AAA
Seems that McCutchen was pushed to the gutter once Nyjer Morgan started raking to start the season. Just three months ago during spring training the hot debate was Morgan, Steven Pearce or McCutchen going to make the team. While, we all know how that has turned out. Pearce seems destined to stay in the minors until there is a 1B job or an abundance of injuries and McCutchen is befuddled that Craig Monroe and Delwyn Young continue to tromp their ineptitude out to center-field.
As the 33rd ranked prospect according to Baseball America, and the 2nd ranked prospect in the Pirate’s farm Andrew is proving to be adept at his job. Drafted in the first round back in 2005 straight out of high school, he has never spent more than one full season at each level. Bred for speed, his thieving skills is his strength but also his bane. Having stolen 34 bases last year he was caught 19 times. This year’s ratio is exponentially better having succeeded in 9 of his 10 chances. He isn’t much of a power hitter and his .190 ISO is misleading because of his 8 triples. Last year he hit 9 HR in 512 AB. He doesn’t strike out much (10% K-rate) and walks near the same (8.1% BB-rate), but doesn’t provide much fantasy upside. That’s like a Crawford-lite, or a Pierre-esque upside for fantasy owners.
The Pirates have a tremendous talent in McCutchen because of his stellar defense and PED-enhanced Juan Pierre-esque hitting and running abilities. As a fantasy owner he is on my radar only for the potential steals and runs. I only envision seeing his call up when the brass decide that Monroe and Young are done – so, after the All-Star break.