No. 5 – Ryan Feierabend, LHP
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on March 14, 2007
Three years ago Ryan Feierabend was just another “soft-tossing lefty” among many graded ahead of him in the Mariners farm system.
Behind the likes of Bobby Livingston and Travis Blackley, Feierabend just kept quiet, went about his work and the results of his efforts are now shining through. The 6-3, 200-pounder has more projectability than either of his southpaw cohorts, and is now No. 5 on the M’s prospect list.
Strengths: Feierabend is the quintessential poster boy for the step-by-step plan for pitching prospects. Since being drafted, Feierabend has moved at a medium but consistent pace through the system, ending last season in the big leagues at age 21.
The southpaw is a student of the game and has built his repertoire around a fastball that has jumped nearly 5 mph since June of 2003, thanks to careful adjustments in such things as the grip on his fastball, his entire delivery and his overall approach to pitching.
He’s got the best pickoff move in all of the minors (36 of 39 would-be basestealers caught trying and two straight pickoff titles), and his secondary stuff has improved significantly every season, allowing him to compete successfully against more experienced bats, year-in and year-out.
Smart, tough and ever-improving, Feierabend is well on his way to a long major league career.
Weaknesses: Without overpowering velocity or a devastating breaking ball, Feierabend has to work for his outs and will need to continue to sharpen his command which would allow his above-average stuff to play up.
If he is pushed to the majors and forced to finish his development while attempting to keep his roster spot, Feierabend will need to learn to handle failure and bounce back the next time through the rotation.
||Left||Left||Draft, 2003 – 3rd Round
Fastball: Feierabend’s fastball is his most important offering in one sense, because everything else he does is dependent on getting ahead in the count on a regular basis.
His heater currently sits in the 89-92 mph range after starting his pro career in the mid-80s. Feierabend is able to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate and can occasionally sneak one of his better four-seamers by good hitters, even if it’s up in the zone a bit.
He’s also able to get some solid sink action on it without taking anything off, and can cut it in on righties and away from lefties.
Curve: Perhaps the most improved pitch in his arsenal, Feierabend’s curve ball is very much like that of former Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer, with similar depth and additional velocity, but lacking the consistency.
Slider: Right now his slider is his third best pitch, but in time his curve is expected to surpass it’s breaking pitch bretheren. The more his curve improves, the less he’ll throw the slider, except perhaps against lefthanded bats.
Change: Feierabend’s bread and butter is his fastball-change combo, and his circle changeup is probably his best chance at keeping big-league hitters at bay. He’s as consistent with his fastball-change velocity differential as anyone in the system, sitting in the 80-82 mph range with the dead fish.
Considering his four-seamer sits around 90 mph, an 80 mph changeup with good deception is a weapon any pitcher can use.
Command: Feierabend continues to improve his consistency, and his command has taken leaps over the past two seasons, despite slightly inferior walk rates last season, which can be partly explained by the level of competition.
But all that proves is that Feierabend needs another year in the minors to round out the edges. He throws strikes with regularity and rarely hurts himself with the base on balls or the big fly.
Mechanics: Feierabend is usually smooth and balanced with his motion,throwing from a 4/5 arm slot, but can fall into a bad habit of exerting too much effort, overthrowing and landing off-balance on his front foot. The club doesn’t feel that it’s a major issue and believe he may have done that for the last time, citing a small adjustment at the top of his delivery to reestablish balance.
Future: Feierabend’s ceiling is probably as a No. 3 starter, but there is little risk that he’ll be useful in the big leagues. His stuff isn’t necessarily built to play well in the bullpen, but it’s not likely to matter – he’s a starter through and through.
He’ll need to get better versus lefthanders but has the stuff (slider, cutter) to do it.
The Ohio native will begin the year in Triple-A Tacoma and is high on the short list of call-ups, should the need arise.
One scout, who specializes in young projectable pitchers, had this to say about Feierabend early last season:
“Oh yeah, he’s going to be a pretty good one, and probably for a long, long time. One of those middle-tiered types who always finds a job and has some good years.”
MLB ETA: 2007
MLB CLONE –
Ceiling: Cliff Lee
Median: Nate Robertson
Cellar: Randy Keisler
PI Projection 2007: 4.2 ERA, 7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.42 G/F