One of the hardest things about covering a baseball team is getting to know the players, and that’s especially when the case when there is a giant brick wall in the form of a language barrier.
But in talking to Neftali Feliz following his first relief appearance Thursday night, the 21-year-old top prospect seemed satisfied with his first two inning effort. He gave up a hit and an earned run while striking out two.
But the real reason to celebrate if you’re Feliz is the fact the move to the pen should only accelerate his move to the big leagues, something director of player development Scott Servais said Thursday.
It’s the same approach the Rangers used with Derek Holland. Put him in the pen, let him get used to it, and then let him throw some relief. If all goes well then the player makes a transition to the rotation, just like Holland did.
Only difference is, the Rangers are starting this process in Triple-A with Feliz. What it means for his long term future is uncertain, but the first step in what will be his final path to the big leagues has been taken.
Prized pitching prospect Neftali Feliz will likely pitch an inning of relief in Thursday’s game against Round Rock. Feliz was in the bullpen during Wednesday’s game, a 3-2 win for the RedHawks.
“We’d like to see if he’s an option to help the major-league club in that role,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an e-mail. “We still feel he may start for us in the future, but we’re going to go down this path first.”
Feliz has struggled at times as a starter this year. In his last 10 outings he’s pitched more than six innings just once, with two more outings going six innings.
The move seems like more of an experiment than a new direction for his career, though some believe he has the potential to be a dominant closer if he doesn’t flourish as a starter. Feliz’ fastball has been clocked at 103 mph this year.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez took the mound in the eighth inning moments ago against Round Rock. Unofficially he threw 11 pitches with eight for strikes. He struck out two, getting the final out of the inning on a pop up.
His first victim was Reggie Abercrombie who is a pretty solid Triple-A hitter. He also struck out Tommy Manzella on three pitches.
El Duque signed a minor league deal with Texas June 11 and has been working to get in pitching shape in OKC ever since. It looks like he may be able to help the Rangers at some point. His off-speed stuff was especially difficult to hit. Brian Bogusevic was the only one of the three batters he faced that made contact.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez will likely take the mound in a game for the first time since he signed a minor league deal with Texas two weeks ago.
The 43-year-old Hernandez threw a short bullpen session Tuesday night and said he felt good afterward. Hernandez has also pitched several live BP sessions in recent days.
Hernandez said he was told by Rangers officials Wednesday’s 11:05 a.m. game with Round Rock would be his first appearance. He said he hasn’t been working on any one pitch, but focusing on his control. If he does throw in today’s game in a relief role, expect a very tight pitch count.
Hernandez projects as a reliever for the Rangers but could also enter the starting rotation has he builds his stamina. He didn’t pitch last season with the Mets thanks to a string of injuries.
Some of the cast and crew of “The Killer Inside Me” visited AT&T Bricktown Ballpark following OKC’s win over Nashville Sunday night.
They weren’t there to shoot scenes for the film, they were there to play a pick up baseball game organized by one of the film’s stars, Casey Affleck who is the younger brother of Ben Affleck.
Casey played high school baseball growing up near Boston. He was sporting the classic sand lot look, a pair of rolled up Levis, button up plaid shirt, Converse All Star shoes topped off by a slouchy Red Sox cap.
There was no sign of co-stars Kate Hudson, Bill Pullman, Ned Beatty or Jessica Alba and her shark posters which caused a minor uproar last week.
The movie, due to be released next year, has been shooting in Guthrie and Oklahoma City over the last month or so.
A couple of developments here at the nest, my new nickname for Bricktown Ballpark. The Rangers have sent Beau Vaughan to Double-A Frisco after an especially rough stretch of outtings giving up six earned runs and 8 hits in his last 5 innings. No move has been made to fill the last spot on OKCs roster to get the team to 24.
Which brings up El Duque who pitched against live hitters yesterday and looked fairly good. Vaughan’s spot could end up being taken by him or German Duran might come off the DL.
- Speaking of coming off the DL, Nate Gold had the game winning hit in last night’s 8-7 extra innings affair against Nashville. It was a nice moment for a guy who has been struggling lately with his health and at the plate.
- Nice moment before Friday night’s game. Infielder Royce Huffman took his young son out in the outfield to shag fly balls. He didn’t catch any, but wore a big RedHawks batting helmet just in case.
-No word yet on when Kris Benson will come to OKC. He was designated for assignment last week but has been battling injuries and is not currently wit the team.
- Alcides Escobar is the real deal. Milwaukee’s top prospect was amazing to watch in the field last night, making several difficult throws including a laser to home plate that gunned down an OKC runner. He’s not big on the offensive end, but his defense is flawless.
Iowa just finished a three-game set at the Brick winning two games. One of the more interesting players on the I-Cubs roster is Ryan Freel who is clearly not happy to be there.
In an interview “attempt” after he went 1 for 4 and stole three bases, Freel appeared to be disgusted with his performance and said it would be a “long time” before he was back with Chicago.
A bit surprising since he played a good game, but not so surprising when you consider Freel has an imaginary friend named “Farney” he talks to during games. Easily one of the weirdest guys I’ve ever encountered in 11 years of covering sports. Maybe he knows Cubs fans want Mark DeRosa back in what appears to be one of the worst low level trades in recent memory.
The other interesting moment was an equipment failure during the game that required shortstop Joaquin Arias to exchange his belt with a teammate during the game, briefly holding up play Tuesday night.
So we’re moving through the first third of the season. It’s been an interesting one for Oklahomans in the majors. You need to look no further than the case of Brian Tallet, the Midwest City native who has carved out a spot in Toronto’s rotation.
Tallet, who has spent most of his time in the majors as a middle reliever, is 3-3 with with a 4.26 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 61 innings of work. It’ll be interesting to see if Tallet hangs on to his spot once Jesse Litsch returns from his injuries. Either way, he’s proven to be an able body for the Jays.
In Tampa, former OU shortstop Jason Bartlett is still on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained ankle. Bartlett is in the middle of a career season with a .373 average with seven homers and 30 RBIs. Bartlett was placed on the DL May 26 meaning he could come off it by the end of next week. In the meantime Tampa has found maybe the hottest hitter in baseball, Ben Zobrist, who has filled in for Bartlett at short and has also seen time in the outfield.
It was a successful season for Oklahoma small colleges and that success could yield several draft picks. Here’s a look at some of the players who might get drafted out of Oklahoma’s small college ranks.
Danny Almonte, OF/P, Western: Some scouts think Almonte will be skipped on draft day in part because of his age advantage over his competition but his stats are impressive with a .474 average, 18 homers and 76 RBIs. On the mound he was 9-0.
Landon Camp, 2B, OCU: Camp is the career leader in home runs for the Stars and has said he intends to sign if drafted. The 6-foot-4 Camp hit .330 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs.
Jason Machado, OF, OCU: A smooth defender, Machado doesn’t give anything up at the plate. Machado hit .377 with 21 homers and 85 RBIs in his final season with the Stars.
Matt Morgal, P, Southern Nazarene: Morgal is a former Edmond Santa Fe standout who played at several colleges before settling at SNU. In his final season of college baseball Morgal went 10-2 with a 4.42 ERA and a school record 131 strikeouts.
Brent Weaver, 1B, OCU: The NAIA National Player of the Year, Weaver, 24, is a little old for prospect status but his numbers are impossible to discount. The Midwest City native hit .419 with 37 homers and 91 RBIs. Weaver was drafted out of high school in 2003 in the 38th round by the Brewers.
very year a handful of former Oklahoma high school players enter the world of professional baseball. Here’s a look at how some of them are fairing this summer.
Ty Weeden, C, Red Sox: After an injury plagued 2008, Weeden has moved up to Salem (High-A) and is hitting .239 with one homer and four RBIs. Weeden was a middle round draft pick in 2006.
Austin McClune, INF, Pirates: Like Weeden, McClune was an All-City pick by the Oklahoman. McClune has thus far struggled to develop as a hitter in the minors, hitting .208 this year which is identical to his current average with Single-A West Virginia.
Pete Kozma, INF, Cardinals: The former No. 1 pick out of Owasso is now at Double-A Springfield with a .220 average. He hit .315 in the FSL before his promotion but has struggled to adapt to Double-A pitching. Still, he remains an excellent long term prospect ranked No. 10 in the Cardinals system by Baseball America.