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Michael Feliz: Astros Prospect Season in Review

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Michael Feliz has shot up prospect rankings lately. Some of his stats look great. Some don't. His measureables look very good. The question: Is he?

Elsa

Michael Feliz certainly looks like a pitcher. He is a big guy with a big arm and a bigger fastball. He can move it all over the zone, pairing it with his slider to make opposing hitters look silly. An international signing during Ed Wade's tenure after his signing with the A's was nixed due to a positive drug test, Feliz came over in 2011 and didn't really impress. In 2012, he had a tiny ERA, but the BABIP and LOB% didn't suggest it was sustainable. However, when 2013 rolled around, he started impressing people with rocketing strikeout rates and a below-2 ERA, and ever since then, he's been a top prospect. You can read more about that here and here.

This season, his stats didn't look so impressive from the outside. A 4.03 ERA and 1.37 WHIP? A BB/9 nearly twice as high as last year? Feliz still struck out an impressive 9.73 per 9, but didn't seem to dominate nearly as much as last year. What was the problem?

As far as I could tell, Feliz was just gassed. He started off the season with a nagging injury, had it rectified, and proceeded to allow more than 1 earned run just twice in an 11-game stretch. He then left for the 2014 USA vs. World prospect game, in which he allowed a game-winning home run to Joey Gallo. After that, he was inconsistent for the remainder of the season. For example: In his next five games, he had three in which he combined for 20 IP, 1 earned run, 3 walks, and 22 strikeouts. In the other two games in that stretch, he allowed 13 earned runs in 5 IP with 5 walks and just 3 strikeouts. While he was ringing up 96-MPH fastballs in the USA vs. World game, he could barely break 92 in the final game of that five-game stretch.

However, do not count Feliz out in any way. For the hullabaloo about his stats, he was clearly unlucky, with a .348 BABIP, 67.6 LOB%, and FIP in the low 3's. His admittedly low HR/9 from last year more than doubled. As you can see from this GIF from the USA vs. World game (courtesy of Irish Pete) his fastball is absolutely excellent. His fastball-slider combo will get him very far. I expect him to be added to 40-man roster, go to Spring Training in wherever it happens to be this spring, and take his talents to the Lancaster desert for the 2015 season.