Neftali Feliz Torches in His Major League Debut

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IAugust 4, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 12:  World Futures All-Star Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers pitches during the 2009 XM All-Star Futures Game at Busch Stadium on July 12, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers' arguable No. 1 prospect got the call to "The Show" on Sunday.  He was in uniform but not activated for Sunday night's win over Seattle.

However, on the first day of the Rangers' long road trip starting off in Oakland we would see Feliz's Major League debut.

Dustin Nippert made the start for the Rangers and held the A's to only one hit for five innings.  In the top of the sixth Ranger fans, that stayed up late for this West Coast game, got their first glimpse of Feliz warming up in the bullpen.

And in the bottom of the inning Feliz took the ball in relief of Nippert and inheriting the slim 1-0 Ranger lead.

Feliz's first batter would be the A's leadoff hitter Adam Kennedy.  Kennedy has been one of the best hitters in the A's lineup most of the season, but that would not phase Feliz at all.  His first pitch was a 98-mph fastball right down the middle for strike one.

His next four pitches were all 97-99 bringing the count to 2-2, and then he threw a 91-mph changeup to get Kennedy to swing and miss.

Next he faced A's catcher Kurt Suzuki and started him off with back-to-back fastballs at 98 and 100, two curveballs and a changeup later he got Suzuki to strikeout swinging.

Then Feliz took on Scott Hairston, he threw two balls to start the at-bat, but then his next three pitches went 99, 100, 100 and he struck Hairston out swinging.

Feliz official first inning of his career he threw 16 pitches, 10 strikes, three fastball clocked at 100 mph, and three strikeouts (all swinging).  The performance in the inning went so well that he earned another inning.

In the bottom of the seventh Feliz's first batter was the dangerous Jack Cust.  Cust only saw fastballs and on the fourth he swung and missed at a 99-mph pitch.

Next, Ryan Sweeney saw only fastballs and changeups, but he was able to put the 2-2 pitch into play.  However, it was a groundout to second baseman Joaquin Arias.

The groundout ended Feliz streak of starting his career off with four consecutive strikeouts, a Texas Rangers franchise record.  Pretty good start for the No. 1 prospect.

A's first baseman Tommy Everidge was the final batter Feliz faced and on a 101-mph fastball he got Everidge to pop up to Ranger first baseman Hank Blalock in foul territory.

Feliz worked two perfect innings in his Major League debut and Ranger fans could not have asked for anything better than what he did.  Feliz struckout four batters, all of them swinging, he threw 30 pitches, 21 strikes, seven fastballs clocked at 100+, and his last pitch of the night was 101-mph.

Now, I'm not crowning the young man the savior of the Texas Rangers, I'm not saying he is going to become the greatest pitch right now, no, not at all. 

I do believe that Feliz is going to have a great career in baseball, I believe the same with Derek Holland, but it is going to take more work, more time, and some growing pains.  Feliz is going to have some bad outings, he is going to have some of them very soon.

Any baseball fan should know that but I look at last night this way, that was a glimpse into what he will become in his career.

Could Feliz be this year's David Price? Possibly.  Could Feliz be another big boost in an already above average Ranger pitching staff? Very Likely.  Should a Ranger fan be excited about the sick, sick, SICK stuff that Feliz displayed last night?  HELL YES!