Feliz Heads to Futures Game
Of course you’ve seen them by now, but the 2009 MLB Futures Game rosters were announced yesterday. There’s plenty of former Midwest Leaguers on the U.S and World team rosters, even some current ones (Brett Lawrie of Wisconsin, Josh Vitters of Peoria, J.C. Sulbaran of Dayton, etc.), but there’s one name Clinton fans should be pretty proud to see.
2008 LumberKings right-hander Neftali Feliz will represent the Texas Rangers on the World team. Just a year ago, Feliz was still dealing upper-90’s fastballs here at Alliant Energy Field and working on his curve/change. Now, he’s a full-fledged top prospect, a sure-fire call-up for the Rangers and a Futures Game participant. It should be exciting to see him in St. Louis.
Feliz came into last season with plenty of hype surrounding his blistering fastball, and he didn’t disappoint. He went 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA, numbers that don’t really stun you, but also struck out 106 batters over just 82.0 innings.
Ironic how Feliz makes it to the Futures Game just as the LumberKings welcome his Seattle Mariners’ clone. Right-hander Maikel Cleto has arrived in Clinton and will make his Midwest League debut tonight. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…Cleto was acquired in a Major League deal (so too was Feliz, the Mark Teixeira trade with Atlanta), he is said to throw mid-90’s (as did Feliz) and is also said to be working on a curveball/changeup to round out his arsenal (Feliz!). We’ll see how Cleto fares tonight.
Finally, my favorite Futures Game moment? Easy. John Whittleman’s home run in the ’07 game in San Francisco. Whit remains the only active LumberKing to participate in the Futures Game since its inception in 1999.
Whit rounds the bases in San Fran after taking Deolis Guerra (NYM) deep in 2007.