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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.

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.

21 6-3 200
Left Left Draft, 2003 – 3rd Round
2006 San Antonio AA 28 154 4.28 0.94 3.22 7.42 .267 .426 .759 .782 .317

Tools –

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.
Grade: 50+/55

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.
Grade: 45/50

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.
Grade: 50/50+

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.
Grade: 55/65

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.
Grade: 55/60+

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.
Grade: 45/55

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

Ceiling: Cliff Lee
Median: Nate Robertson
Cellar: Randy Keisler

OFP: 63.0
PI Projection 2007: 4.2 ERA, 7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.42 G/F


59 Responses to “No. 5 – Ryan Feierabend, LHP”

  1. Willmore said

    “The southpaw is a student of the game”

    Music to my ears. Too many Thorntons out there – all heat, no thought.

  2. And just as Thornton’s brain starts working to his advantage and he stays healthy, the M’s send him packing.

  3. Goose said

    Eh, getting rid of Thornton is something I’m not going to fault the club for, because I was one of the one’s screaming at the top of my lungs to get rid of the guy.

  4. Well, instead of taking a shot on Thornton again, who wasnt awful in 05, just had terrible command, they kept Woods.


  5. Turtle said

    Woods or Thornton.It’s like picking what kind of crap you want to take, diarrhea or impacted.Both suck but sometimes thats all you can take.

  6. Edgar said

    I’m still in denial about Thornton. I’m with Goose, if I had to watch him give up another freaking home run to Giambi I would have seriously hurt myself or someone else. Thank you Bavasi, you kept me out of the hospital and jail. At least I don’t feel blind rage when Woods comes in.

  7. Adam said

    What makes the Thornton deal even worse is the way they mishandled Borchard. Ugh…

    Feierabend was the guy I was thinking of the other day to round out the top five.

    Quite encouraging that we have four pitchers in our top-six; all who project to #3 starters at least. Let’s hope we hit on at least three of them…

  8. Slack said

    I said something similar about Justin Thomas but I also think that Feierabend has the kind of mental make up that the M’s could use on the big league level. Tough and smart. I like it! You gotta love the steady improvement this guy makes too.

  9. Katal said

    I would be quite content with Ryan Feierabend turning into Nate Robertson. Like the scout said, there’s always demand for those types of pitchers.

    I have to say, for the first time in ages (or at least since Clint and Travis were surrounded by hype), I’m excited about our farm system. Even if this is Bavasi and Fontaine’s last year here, at least they’ll have one more go around with the draft.

  10. Andren said

    9. Agreed. Let’s hope that, if it is Bavasi’s last year with the Ms, he doesn’t trade away any of these guys in a last-ditch effort to lift us from mediocrity.

    What I’m excited about is perhaps a Morrow and/or Feierabend coming up to the bigs and rounding out a rotation with Felix. No more big free agency dollars being thrown around for subpar starters.

  11. Slack said

    Take that Miguel Batista!

  12. Adam said

    Now all we need to do is trade Ichiro for two top-flight prospects and we’ll be set!!


  13. ivan said

    I went through the whole prospect roundup right down to #50 and could not find any mention of Jon Nelson. did the M’s release him or something, and I missed it? Thanks.

  14. jp17 said

    Maybe if JAC did a list down to #500 you might find him.

    He is organizational filler, but I do believe he is still in the system.

  15. Willmore said

    The thing about Thornton, he finally figured out that lefties have an intrinsic advantage over other lefties. He had an .OPS against lefties of .850+ in 2004-2005. 2006 comes around and boom goes the dynamite, he has a .569 OPS against. He walks just 5 lefties in 80+ plate appearances and strikes out 23. And his G/F ratio went from avergage to 1.5 groundballs. Since an old dog can’t learn new tricks (actually, false, see mythbusters), Matt didn’t become a new pitcher with better stuff, he had to have just been coached better in Chicago. How good is Chavez, really? We all fawn over Felix, but he hasn’t really lighted up the show, he was unlucky, but he still wasn’t as consistent as one would want. He has not improved a single pitcher to a great degree with the possible exception of J.J. Is Chavy all hype? Jason, what are your thoughts on him?

  16. Goose said

    And one could argue that a good deal of Putz’s improvement should be credited to Eddie Guardado.

  17. Slack said

    From what trajectory does Feierabend throw his curveball? 12-6? 1-7?
    I like the looks of his changeup.

  18. He’s more of the 1-7 angle, Slack, as most lefties are.

  19. Re: Chaves

    I like him, and he’s a solid pitching coach and the right guy for the job for this team for the next several years.

    Thornton didn’t figure things out in ’06 because he was away from Chaves, he simply got it together, and you don’t BLAME former PC’s for that, you credit the player.

    Hitting and pitching coaches get far too much blame when things are bad and far too much credit when things are going well.

    I was once told the following by a coach that was teaching me how to pitch when I was 14 or so. He was a former pro draftee that played a few years in college and three in the minors, so I took what he said pretty seriously. But this non-technical advice was the best ever.

    “If you want to learn how to do something or get better at something, it’s up to you, not the person who is doing the teaching. Take control of it, be proactive and don’t let your coach or teacher fall behind. If you stay on top of it, you’ll find a way, if you want it bad enough.”

    Sure, there are certain types of approaches that work with some personalities and some that don’t, and all that jazz, but if the pitcher relies on the pitching coach to do the work for him, he’s going to fail.

    Take Putz, for example. Learning the splitter FROM ANOTHER PITCHER, not the PC. Putz went out on his own time and picked Eddie’s brain and Eddie suggested the split might be good for him.

    Putz came back with a plus pitch that he developed on his own, and neither Price nor Chaves had anything to do with it. Putz is a great reliever now because of his own doing.

  20. Willmore said

    But getting it together at 29, there has to be something to Thornton beyond himself.

  21. Willmore said

    Ha ha ha, Weaver is pitching in the 99-101 mph range 🙂 I guess it’s spring training for the radar gun too. He just threw a 100mph change-up.

  22. Willmore said

    And to complete the hat-trick of posts: Jason, the way Morrow has been pitching, and the way our starting rotation is so fragile, do you think it’s possible he starts in Tacoma and not in AA?

  23. Re: Weaver

    They fixed the gun, bit I was hoping they tuned it down too much, because he couldn’t top 87 with his fastball. I thought he was throwing far too many changeups, but nope, those were four-seamers.

    Re: Morrow

    Yeah, I think it’s possible, but I’d still bet on AA.

  24. Willmore said

    Yeah, Weaver has no stuff to speak of, but he reminds me of a poor man’s Jamie Moyer. He’s not going to be pitching many shutouts, he’s not going to be going 9 innings any time soon, but from week to week, he’s going to post solid, if not spectacular numbers of a routine #4 pitcher. He’s not going to be a front line starter, ever, but on the other hand, he will not blow up as often as a replacement player.

  25. If he sits 84-87 with his fastball, he WILL get blown up WORSE than a replacement level starter, such as Baek.

  26. Willmore said

    Depends on whether he has command of his 87 fastball. And the 87 is a bit low, he’ll be up to 89-90 by the end of spring training. He does have good movement on his pitches and if he commands them and has good change of pace, he might easily get a consistent 4.3-4.5 ERA.

  27. Goose said

    You guys see Cameron’s review of Morrow today against the Cubs? Good stuff. I can’t wait to see this guy get slotted right behind Felix.

  28. 87 is a BP fastball unless you have Maddux-like command and movement to boot. If it’s in the strike zone anywhere, 87 gets shredded when it comes from Weaver.

    Maddux had/has amazing late tail to his fastball — Weaver has predictable, early movement and he hangs a lot of them.

  29. I must have spoke to the same scout Dave did because the one i spoke to this evening asked me where the M’s were planning on sending Morrow, too. When i said Double-A is the current idea, he asked what the heck for, he should be logging innings in Tacoma.

  30. Goose said

    Heh, with all the griping we do about the M’s hyper agressiveness on their prospects, this might be the time where it’s actually a good idea, and they might not do it.

  31. I don’t have an issue with Morrow going to Tacoma OR West Tenn, to be honest.

    If he goes to AA and lights it up for six weeks, they’ll slide him up to Tacoma by June 1, so…

    But if he’s just merely solid, maybe he’ll stay there for a bit.

    The thing is, unless the club sees a good possibility that he’d struggle in the PCL, he SHOULD start the year there. There’s be no real reason to send him to AA.

    And my opinion is that he would NOT struggle in AAA. Sure, he’d have his growing pains, but struggle? I can’t see bats hitting him so hard that the move is a setback type act.

    But I can also understand why Seattle might want to be a little careful with him as they ramp up his workload.

  32. Willmore said

    With Putz possibly out for the opener, who gets the call at closer and who gets the call-up for a week?

  33. if jj is gonna be out, i’d guess that EO stays up.

  34. Willmore said

    Really, I was hoping that Eric would win the bullpen job and someone like Green would be out of luck. Also, what is the official rule on rookies and the free agency clock starting, say Morrow gets a week in the big leagues at the start of the season, is then sent down and gets a the usual cup in september, how does that impact his future?

    And speaking of O’Flaherty … or should I say Ó Flaithbheartaigh. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O'Flaherty Interesting name history.
    “The O’Flahertys were war-like, as evidenced by the sign which is said to have hung over the west gate of the city of Galway: “from the ferocious O’Flahertys may God protect us”.”

  35. i dont think that impacts his future all that much, in either direction… which is why it wont happen.

  36. Willmore said

    Weird, link didn’t work, try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Flaherty

  37. cujo said

    Some of the best lessons learned in the minors are when you struggle.2 months in Hi A wont hurt morrow but if they shove him to double A to quick and he gets beat around who knows if he will recover?The guy needs innings and experience 5 good innings in spring meens nothing this pushing of prospects to fast is gonna cost young man careers but bavasi i guess is only worried about his!

  38. Salty Dog said

    5 good innings means nothing if it’s 5 lucky innings. Morrow’s don’t sound lucky at all. He has the velocity and the stuff to back it up.

    Here’s to hoping he sees the majors this year. Morrow + Felix could be a very solid top of the rotation.

  39. Adam B. said

    Is that the best picture you could find of ol’ Feierabend?
    He looks like someone just smacked him in the nose with a rolled up newspaper; Or perhaps just called him a “soft tossing lefty”?

  40. It’s better than hus team mug shot they took in Peoria two weeks ago. When i popped that CD in and got to Feierabend’s I cringed. hHe and Ichiro have terrible mug shots.

  41. Willmore said

    Well now I have to see them.

  42. I’ll be sure and use them at some point this year.

  43. eknpdx said

    Jason, a while back you wrote about a conversation with a scout and he said:

    “It’s not great. Their best talent is at the very top in Jones and the kid from SC (Clement), but they don’t have any depth up there. Their best guys after that are so far from being contributors. I think that their second and third-rounders (Butler, Tillman) might be better prospects than Morrow, and I saw a lot of Morrow, I was the West Coast coordinator last year and he was explosive.”

    After you do the Morrow write up, could help organize thoughts about comparing the arms in the top 5? I was hoping to get a better idea about the odds of one TOR coming out of this trio.

  44. Remind of this, Ek, it’s a good idea. But i WILL forget, so come back and remind me.

  45. Slack said

    I bet Feierabend gets a really good look this year in the big leagues. Just look at how Weaver’s pitching!

  46. Ron Hagerty said

    I dont see O’Flaherty or Sean Green making the team… not that EO doesnt belong, cause he is better than Woods and Sherill in my opinion… Green is pitching terrible…

    I would assume the 7 man pen (minus Putz due to injury) would be: Woods, Rhodes, Sherill, Mateo, Huber, Reitsma, White..

    Remember that kid White is a Rule V, so they’ll probably use Putz’ absence as a chance to keep him around and see if he’s any good, when the games count… So far he’s outpitched most of the guys in the pen this spring

  47. Slack said

    I probably should take back my comment from #45. I just saw Weavers pitching line on mlb.com and it says that he retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. Thats good.
    However, Weaver could suck it up badly during the season so there is no telling what he is going to do.

  48. Willmore said

    Weaver has 8.5 million reasons to stick around at least until mid-season.

  49. Slack,

    Weaver was TERRIBLE yesterday, the Giants bats, if you want to even call them that since they were mostly made up of Winn, Klesko and a bunch of replacement level guys, were just that awful.

    Weaver has been sitting 84-87 with his FASTBALL. Remember how unbelievably awful he was with LAA last year?

    He’s not different right now than he was then. He was different in September and from what I can gather it’s due to a more consistent arm slot – higher rather than dropping down – that helped his effectiveness and his general velocity get back to 90-92.

    At 84-87, Weaver is the worst starter the M’s have had in the past tw0 years – worse than Joel. At 90-92, he’s one of the better.

  50. Goose said

    Looks like Weaver may be the top candidate for the annual veteran DFA.

  51. Slack said

    Very well, I guess I’ll stick with comment 45. That kind of a performance is a really bad sign.
    Is his arm slot back down again?

  52. it sure as hell is. He’s stubborn and apparently stupid.

  53. Slack said

    I heard from mlb.com that he plans to watch the video of him winning the final game of the world series when he needs inspiration. I didn’t pay close attention to his arm slot in that game but I hope he takes a hint at his arm slot if it was indeed higher. Otherwise he is probably an idiot.
    Hopefully, Raul Chavez will get on his case a little.

  54. Greg08 said

    I think I know the rest of the list, but I was really hoping Carlos Triunfel would be on this list. Is he not proven enough to be on the list?

  55. jp17 said

    I think Jason was leaving off players who have yet to play in the states. If this list was compiled based strictly off of a player’s ceiling, I’d have to think he’d be right up there. Seems we have a few hitters that fit this profile with Triunfel leading the weay.

  56. marinerswinws said

    Horacio Ramirez has been the surprise so far.

    Feierabend could make the squad this year? What do you think Jason.

  57. Tri is certainly one of the best few talents in the system, but it’d be more than just a guessing game by trying to put any sort of ranking on he and the other two as well.

    He’ll play stateside this year, and I’ll have a better report for him in April than I could have ever done this winter.

    Re: Feierabend

    It wouldn’t behoove the club to bring Feir north unless he’s going to start. So, who’s not gonna start? Felix? Of course not. Wash? Not a chance. Batista? Did the M’s pay 8 mil for a relief guy? Weaver? He’s never bee a relief pitcher and he was brought here to start games. That leaves Ramirez. I seriously doubt he gets demoted after a strong spring.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that if they take Feir north, they are idiots. Barring injuries, of course.

  58. Goose said

    HoRam has been getting groundballs like a crazy man this spring. If he could somehow keep it up(highly doubtful) he could have a better G/F ratio than Felix.

  59. Lance said

    Ramirez’s success doesn’t surprise me. His history has been if he’s healthy he does well. I expect any success in ST will carry on into the season. He should win 10 to 15 games easily. Possibly more.

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