Ryan Feierabend, LHP
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on July 19, 2006
The Seattle Mariners may just have a pretty darned good pitching prospect after all.
I’ve been talking about him for what seems like years, but it started out as a simple “keep an eye on this arm” last July. But now, it’s graduated – twice – to the “it’s time to start taking this kid serious” level, and then some.
Ryan Feierabend was the M’s 3rd round selection in the 2003 draft – a draft that gets better and better with every day that Adam Jones develops and with every pitch thrown by the San Antonio Missions left-hander.
The Ohio native started this season with 332 pro innings under his belt, and vastly unimpressive numbers to show for his efforts. The only digits that consistently caught the eyes of scouts were those that described his age. Feierabend has always been among the youngest players in his league.
He was anything but exciting through mid-June of last year as a member of the Inland Empire 66ers. Since a poor start on June 20, 2005, Feierabend has been a different pitcher.
Then 19, he posted a stingy 1.16 ERA in July and a solid 3.44 mark in August. He’s continued with that success throughout this season, with few exceptions, and it’s probably about time we start talking about him as a legitimate prospect and a serious candidate to break into the M’s rotation within the next two seasons.
He’s now 20 years of age – 21on August 22 – and his last eight starts have been a collection of top drawer performances, with just one sub par outing sandwiched in between.
Including his June 9 start versus Frisco in which he went five scoreless innings, Feierabend has poured on the quality pitching in heavy doses. In his past 48 2/3 innings, the 6-3, 200-pounder has allowed just 40 hits and 13 earned runs (2.40 ERA). He’s walked just eight batters while whiffing 54.
But the traditional numbers don’t tell the entire story.
Feierabend during streak –
– Allowed fewer hits then innings pitched in seven of eight starts
– Six or more innings in six of eight starts
– Allowed two earned runs or less in seven of eight starts
– Allowed ZERO earned runs in three of the eight starts
Feierabend’s command has been the difference. He’s staying off the middle of the plate and keeping the ball down in the zone. His fastball has been sitting in the 87-91 mph range and his change has been his best pitch. His curve ball continues to become a better weapon he can use later in ballgames.
Now capable of locating his fastball and toying with a batters’ balance and timing, Feierabend has been able to stay away from the long ball and the extra-base hit in general.
In the 48 2/3 innings, he’s allowed just 13 extra-base hits, including four home runs (he’s surrendered more than two XBH in a start just once). That’s 13 hits of two bases or more in 191 batters faced. That’s impressive for anyone at any level.
He’s tough on lefties (.232 avg, 1HR in 103 batters faced) and has a wicked pick-off move that often times ends up with the first baseman gunning down the runner at second base.
He’s allowed a .173 average to the first batter of the inning and has just three wild pitches all season. he does have areas of concern, such as performing with ducks on the pond and getting tougher with runners in scoring position and two down.
But that’s being awfully nit picky.
Feierabend is 7-7 on the season and after his stellar 7-inning outing on Wednesday night he’s lowered his ERA to 3.96. It was 5.10 on May 24, just seven weeks ago.
Armed with an above average 4-seam fastball with good movement, a potentially plus change and a curve ball that may develop into an above-average offering itself, Feierabend has all the makings of a successful big-league starting pitcher.
And he’s a southpaw to boot.
He’ll probably need two years to get himself ready for the show, but the kid can pitch and is sustaining success for long periods of time.
Most scouts see his future ceiling as a No. 3 starter in the mold of a Noah Lowry. Feierabend’s annual progress may leave those comps in the dust.
Strengths: Feierabend is an intelligent pitcher whose best attribute may be his ability to put what he’s learned to use on the mound significantly quicker than most young arms. His pick-off move is second only to fellow southpaw Travis Blackley in the entire system and his physical tools grade very high.
His command has been an enormous key to his success this season and his confidence is a driving force.
Weaknesses: Feierabend’s stuff is solid but it’s not good enough to hold up when his control goes south and certainly won’t get him through many starts when he falters when things get dicey. But he’s improving in all areas and is truly a work-in-progress that’s actually progressing, and well, too.
It may be wise for Feierabend to continue working on a cutter or a true slider to use versus lefties, though he’s yet to hit the wall against the power bats from that side of the plate.
Once deemed a project, Feierabend is now a success story. Even at 20.
Sitting 87-91 with a 4-seam fastball, Feierabend is able to locate his heater well, setting up his secondary pitches.
Sometimes overused, Feierabend’s changeup is headed for the “plus” table. With more experience he’ll learn when enough is enough. Right-handers have a lot of trouble hitting this pitch squarely.
The better his curve ball gets, the less he needs to throw the change and the more promising Feierabend’s career becomes. Two years ago, the curve ball was a show-me pitch. Now it’s a true weapon.
A classic example of how hard work and consistency can pay dividends. Being able to hit the catcher’s glove is essential for any pitcher who doesn’t throw 95 mph or have four plus pitches.
Throwing from a 4/5 arm angle, Feierabend’s flowing but somewhat quiet delivery reminds some of Tom Glavine. He keeps his front side closed and is able to maintain identical arm slots with all of his pitches.
Staying Power: 50/55
Overall Future Potential: 63.0
Prospect Insider Graphic by Goose