Scouting Report: Neftali Feliz

Scouting Report: Neftali Feliz

Lone Star Dugout brings you a scouting report on right-handed pitcher Neftali Feliz from his GCL Braves coaching staff and The Braves Show's Bill Shanks. This feature originally ran on January 7, 2007.

Though most of the attention has been focused on big leaguers Mark Teixeira and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Texas Rangers also acquired 19-year-old pitcher Neftali Feliz from the Atlanta Braves earlier in the week. The following article originally appeared on The Braves Show on January 7, 2007. It features observations from Feliz's coaches with the GCL Braves last season as well as Braves minor league expert Bill Shanks.

Gulf Coast League Braves manager Luis Ortiz

He's special. Based on his age, he was probably the number one prospect in this league. Neftali's still young. You would see flashes of greatness. The arm, the looseness, the arm action. Gosh. If you can throw 96, 97 now, wait until you get to be 200 pounds you might throw closer to 100. Feliz is special. His breaking stuff is inconsistent. He really pitches with one pitch, and he blows it by one pitch. Just wait until he learns those breaking pitches. He'll go to Danville. He's just so young. No need to rush him. He's got a great upside.

GCL Braves pitching coach Derrick Lewis

He's got a big-time arm. His breaking stuff is getting better, a lot more consistent. He's a big-time talent. He's young, so he just has to pitch. He's just got to go out there and have more success, maybe even get hit around a bit too. But he has a lot of upside. He's got a very high ceiling, as high as anybody we had on our staff. He's a strong kid too. He works hard and will get bigger. Right now he's starting to get more innings and get more consistency, but down the line you never know.

The Braves Show's Bill Shanks

I first saw Feliz in spring training last year, upon the advice of Luis Ortiz who warned me to watch this kid closely. He was impressive. The ball just flew out of his arm. So I wasn't totally surprised he made a good impression in the GCL this past summer. Here's my question: say there was a lean pitcher like this preparing for the draft this June. How high would a Neftali Feliz, a lean hard-throwing right-hander, go in the draft? First round for certain. So that's a first round talent the Braves will have in Danville this season, to go along with all the talented high school kids the Braves got last year in the draft. When I watch Feliz I see a reliever. I'm not saying he won't start, but if you put another 20 pounds on him and watch that fastball get up to 100 mph you just think of a relief pitcher. For now, Feliz will try to win a spot on the Rome roster in spring training but more than likely stay in Orlando and then head to Danville in late June. With all the talent at the lower levels, there's absolutely no reason to rush Feliz. If he is this special, he'll dictate his timetable. There's no doubt he's got a dangerous fastball that could be a lethal pitch, and after a few more years of development Feliz could be one of the top prospects in the entire game.

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