Results tagged ‘ Neftali Feliz ’

Tonight’s Interview: Nate Kreinbrink

It’s one of the biggest nights of the year at Alliant Energy Field tonight, the Casey’s General Stores and KWQC-TV Bobblehead Giveaway and also the 5th Annual Scout Sleepover.  This year’s bobblehead is 2008 LumberKings’ right-hander and 2010 A.L. Rookie of the Year, current Texas Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz.  Joining me to talk about the busy evening is the man instrumental in both promotions, LumberKings’ Assistant General Manager, Nate Kreinbrink.

We talk about Nate’s opportunity to watch Feliz save Game 3 of the 2010 World Series in Arlington, TX, the success of “Stay Late Saturdays” this season, the upcoming appearance by the “Ghostriders” Monkeys on August 19, his memories of the 2010 MWLCS in his home state of Ohio, this year’s playoff push and more.

Listen Here:  Kreinbrink OTD Interview 8.12.11

The LumberKings nearly erased a five-run deficit last night over the final three innings, but the Cedar Rapids Kernels prevailed, 6-5.  Right-hander John Taylor allowed a three-run homer to Ricky Alvarez in the seventh that broke open a 6-1 lead for the Kernels, but Julio Morban tripled home two runs (listen:  Morban 2-R Triple 8.11.11) and scored on a sacrifice fly by Stefen Romero to make it a one-run game.  Unfortunately, the Kernels closed the door from there as right-hander Daniel Tillman earned save #11.  Lefty Tony Butler fell to 1-3 with the loss despite a quality start (6.0 IP, 3 ER) while Cedar Rapids’ right-hander A.J. Schugel improved to 4-3 with just a run on one hit over 6.0 innings.

Tonight’s Game Notes:   8.12.11 kingsnotes

Starting Lineup:  8.12.11 lineup

The Kings see their lead on Beloit for the Wild Card spot knocked back to 3.0 games as a result of last night’s loss.  They’ll try and capture the series with the Kernels in the rubber match tonight with defending MWL Pitcher of the Week, right-hander Stephen Kohlscheen (2-3, 5.52) makes his third start tonight.  He’s 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his two starts with Clinton this year and faces the Kernels for the second time.  Cedar Rapids counters with right-hander P.J. Jang (1-4, 4.38).  The game begins at 7:00 PM, listen to the broadcast on 1390kcln.com.

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Follow me on Twitter at @davelezotte and the LumberKings at @LumberKings.

Roster Moves, Alumni Notes (4/25)

A few roster-related changes to pass along…over the weekend, right-hander Jonathan Arias was removed from the DL as right-hander Fray Martinez (0-1, 7.00) was added to the DL.  Today, infielder Anthony Phillips was promoted to high-A High Desert and is replaced by infielder Shaver Hansen.  Check out the release here:  http://clinton.lumberkings.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110425&content_id=18236220&vkey=news_t500&fext=.jsp&sid=t500

We just witnessed a third former LumberKing make his Major League debut already this season.  Right-hander Cody Eppley (’08), who went 0-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two relief appearances with Clinton back in the day, debuted on Saturday against Kansas City, working 2.0 innings of scoreless relief including a strikeout .  He earned a hold to help Alexi Ogando to his third win of the season in a 3-1 Rangers’ victory.

Eppley was promoted to fill the spot of former LumberKings right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08), who hit the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.  The 43rd round pick of the Rangers in 2008 out of Virginia Commonwealth was the franchise’s Minor League Reliever of the Year in 2010 (5-2, 2.08 ERA, 16 saves between Bakersfield, Frisco and Oklahoma City) and was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and three saves for triple-A Round Rock prior to the promotion.

He joins Seattle Mariners’ right-handers Josh Lueke and Tom Wilhelmsen as former LumberKings to make Major League debuts this season.

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Kings in Spring (March 24)

According to Jamey Newberg at “The Newberg Report“, the Texas Rangers have set their starting rotation for the season.  One LumberKing has made the cut, while another has not.

Left-hander Derek Holland (’08) is back in the rotation thanks to solid Cactus League numbers (2-0, 3.21 ERA, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts in 4 outings, 14.0 innings)…he’ll join C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter and Matt Harrison in the rotation, according to Newberg’s post.

That means right-hander and last year’s AL Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz (’08) is back in the bullpen as the Rangers’ closer.  Feliz was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in four Spring outings, including three starts.  Last year, he saved 40 games in 43 chances while going 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 70 outings.

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Kings in Spring (March 19)

The Texas Rangers announced several roster moves involving former LumberKings today as they sent right-hander Eric Hurley (’05) to the AAA Round Rock roster, plus 1B/OF Chad Tracy (’07) and catcher Jose Felix (’08) to the AA Frisco roster.

The Rangers meet the Seattle Mariners in Surprise, AZ today.  Ian Kinsler (’04) and Mitch Moreland (’08) bookend the starting lineup for Texas, while Justin Smoak (’08) hits fifth for the Mariners.  Most notably in this game, right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08) makes the start for the Rangers in what will possibly be his last outing before Texas brass decide if he’ll remain the closer or join the rotation. 

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Kings in Spring (March 14)

This may be old news to some, but I was back home in Milwaukee and unable to post it until now.  Right-hander Blake Beavan (’08) made his first Spring start as a Mariner on Saturday against Oakland and earned the win, limiting the Athletics to a run on three hits over 3.0 innings.  Shortly thereafter, Beavan was re-assigned to Minor League camp.  Right-hander Yoervis Medina (’10) also saw his time in big-league camp end as he was optioned to the High Desert spring roster.

In that Beavan start, a 10-2 win over the A’s, first-baseman Justin Smoak (’08) finally woke up his bat with a 2-for-2 game including a two-out two-run single in the fourth inning and a two-run homer to left-center in the sixth.  The blast was Smoak’s first in Cactus League action.

The Mariners’ roster still includes Smoak, right-handers Josh Lueke (’07-’08) and Tom Wilhelmsen (’10) and catcher Steven Baron (’10) at this time.  I have to say, I’m still surprised Baron is there.

Over in Surprise, the Texas Rangers sent outfielder Engel Beltre (’08), right-hander Fabio Castillo (’08) and left-hander Zach Phillips (’06-’07) back to Minor League camp on Saturday.

Continuing with Rangers camp, Ian Kinsler (’04) is hitting a healthy .367 with a .933 slugging percentage…the former Clinton infielder has a team-high five homers and nine RBI in 11 games.  While Chris Davis continues to assert his value to the team as a corner infielder, Mitch Moreland (’08) keeps fighting to hold onto the first-base spot…he’s hitting .375 with a .719 slugging percentage, five doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in 12 games.  Aside from catcher Jose Felix (’08), who is 5-for-5 with a double in big-league action, the group of former Kings that includes Chad Tracy (’07), Craig Gentry (’07), Marcus Lemon (’07) and others has been largely quiet offensively.

Left-hander Derek Holland (’08) is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA, no walks and six strikeouts in his two starts, totaling 5.0 innings.  Right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08) has pitched just twice in camp, including one start…the flamethrower has not allowed an earned run over 5.0 innings, but has walked three and has hit a batter in that span.  Lefty Michael Kirkman is carrying a 3.00 ERA in three outings and has struck out eight over 9.0 innings.

Scanning other camps, outfielder John Mayberry Jr. (’06) continues to look impressive in a bid for a roster spot with the Philadelphia Phillies…he’s hitting .324 with three doubles, four homers and nine RBI in 14 games.  Right-hander Maikel Cleto (’09) has had two outings with the St. Louis Cardinals and is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA, one save, four walks, three strikeouts and a home run allowed over 4.0 innings.  Right-hander Thomas Diamond (’04) is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA over four relief outings as he attemps to make the Chicago Cubs’ Opening Day roster.  Catcher Manny Pina (’07) and outfielder Tim Smith (’08) have both seen minor action in Kansas City Royals’ camp…Pina is 4-for-16 (.250) with a home run and three RBI in 10 games, while Smith is hitless in two at-bats. 

There’s plenty more players to track, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

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Kings in Spring (March 4)

Departing from Mariners camp in Peoria for a day, it’s time to check out what’s going on with our old pals with the Texas Rangers.

One of the big Spring storylines not only in Surprise, AZ but across baseball is whether or not defending AL Rookie of the Year and former LumberKings right-hander Neftali Feliz (’08) will transition from closer to starting pitcher.  Feliz made his first Cactus League start yesterday in split-squad against the Cleveland Indians, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings but looking less-than-sharp as he allowed two hits, walked a batter and hit another.  I don’t think Nolan Ryan and company are too worried at this point.

Right-hander Eric Hurley (’05) came on and retired six-straight hitters on all of 21 pitches over 2.0 innings in his first action.  Things looked good for Texas, who held an 8-2 advantage heading into the seventh, until the Indians struck for seven runs against a pair of former Kings.  Mark Hamburger (’08) served up a one-out grand slam to Matt LaPorta and left-hander Zach Phillips (’06-’07) allowed all three of his inherited runners to score in a blown save.  Fortunately, Chris Davis saved the day with a walk-off, two-run homer to give the Rangers an 11-9 win.

Ian Kinsler (’04) continued his hot start in his newfound home atop the order, lifting a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first (his third already this Spring) and finishing 2-for-2 to raise his average to .556.  Davis Stoneburner (’08) and Jose Felix (’08) also chipped in…Stoneburner went 1-for-2 with an RBI and is hitting .333…Felix went 2-for-2 as the starting catcher, keeping his average at 1.000.

The other half of the split squad defeated the Chicago Cubs, 8-7.  Left-hander Derek Holland (’08), eyeing a return to the starting rotation, yielded a run on three hits and struck out two over 2.0 innings in his first outing.  Cody Eppley (’08) fired a scoreless inning in relief to get the win. World Series hero Mitch Moreland (’08) went 2-for-2 with a two-run homer and three total RBI, and David Paisano (’07-’08) lined a two-run triple off fellow former LumberKing Thomas Diamond (’04) to lead the offense.  Diamond took the loss for the Cubs with those two runs over 1.0 relief inning.

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The Interview Vault: Beau Jones

beau jones interview vault.jpgJuly 31, 2007.  A day that had as much importance in the recent success of the Texas Rangers as any other in the team’s history.  On that afternoon, General Manager John Daniels swung a deadline deal with the Atlanta Braves that sent Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay over in exchange for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, right-hander Neftali Feliz and left-handers Matt Harrison and left-hander Beau Jones.

Andrus and Feliz are nearing household-name status after starring roles in the 2010 playoffs and near back-to-back Rookie of the Year awards (Andrus finished second behind Oakland’s Andrew Bailey in 2009, Feliz won it yesterday) and there’s no question they are two of the cornerstones of the franchise.  Saltalamacchia caught in roughly 190 games for the Rangers and appeared to be their catcher of the future (he hit .243 with 19 HR and 81 RBI in his first three seasons), but a case of “Rube Baker syndrome”, a visit with a psychologist and just two more games with Texas in 2010, he was sent over to the Boston Red Sox.  Harrison went 13-8 over 26 starts in the 2008-2009 seasons, but transitioned to a relief role in 2010 and was not included on the playoff roster.

So what happened to Jones, the ninth-best prospect in the Braves system in 2006 and a LumberKing in 2007?

As LumberKings fans may remember, Jones stepped into the rotation after the promotion of Omar Poveda in 2007 and went 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in seven games, six starts.  Clinton fans surely will recall his gutsy playoff performance in Game 2 of the West Division Quarterfinals against Cedar Rapids when, after rain forced the early exit of right-hander Kasey Kiker, Jones stepped in to deliver six innings of scoreless, one-hit relief as the Kings battled back for an 8-2 victory.

Since then, Jones has been under the radar in a Rangers’ system chock full of prospect arms.  He had moderate success with double-A Frisco in 2008 and 2009, going a combined 5-5 with a 4.37 ERA in 47 relief appearances with the RoughRiders.  He returned to the Texas League in 2010 and had his best season to date as a Ranger, going 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 34 games, mostly relief.  The numbers look even better when you condense it to relief outings only, as his ERA drops to 1.90.  Jones limited opponents to a .192 average (including a .122 average to right-handed hitters) and struck out 56 in 47 innings out of the pen.

The Metairie, Louisiana native looks bound for the new triple-A affiliate of the Rangers in Round Rock next year with the possibility of a Major League call-up.  If the latter happens, it will prove to be a rarity in the world of deadline deals: a seven-player trade in which every player involved makes the Majors.

For today’s edition of “The Interview Vault”, I dug up my conversation with Jones following that Game 2 performance against the Kernels.

Listen Here:  Beau Jones (2007 Playoffs).mp3

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Former LumberKing Feliz is A.L. Rookie of the Year

Texas Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz becomes fourth former Clinton player to win a R.O.Y. award

 

Former Clinton LumberKings right-hander and Texas Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz was voted the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year in an announcement today from the Baseball Writers Association of America.  He is the fourth former Clinton player to win the award, joining Steve Sax (1982 N.L. Rookie of the Year), Ron Kittle (1983 A.L. Rookie of the Year) and Jason Bay (2004 N.L. Rookie of the Year).

 


feliz rookie of the year.jpg
The 22-year-old Feliz received 20 out of 28 first-place votes thanks to an outstanding 2010 season with the American League Champion Rangers.  He set a Major League Baseball record for saves by a rookie, converting 40 of 43 chances while going 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 70 appearances with Texas.

 

Feliz was acquired by the Rangers as part of a seven-player trade with Atlanta on July 31, 2007.  He began his first full season in the Texas system as a starting pitcher with the LumberKings in 2008.  The Azua, Dominican Republic native went 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 17 starts that year, walking just 28 batters while striking out 106 over 82.0 innings.  Feliz was named a 2008 Midwest League All-Star and was also the league’s Pitcher of the Week from June 9-16.

 

Feliz joins Kittle as the only former Clinton players to win the American League award.  Kittle, a member of the Clinton Dodgers in 1977, won in 1983 while an outfielder with the Chicago White Sox.  Sax (1979 Clinton Dodgers) was the National League’s top rookie in 1982 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Bay (2001 LumberKings) took home the nomination following his 2004 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

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The Interview Vault: Derek Holland

holland interview vault.jpgBack in April of 2008, a 20-year-old draft-and-follow left-hander named Derek Holland was a relative surprise choice for Clinton’s Opening Night starter against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. 

Holland, the 25th round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2006 out of Wallace State Community College wasn’t exactly a hot prospect when he arrived to start the 2008 season.  He was coming off a solid 4-5, 3.22 season in Spokane, but wasn’t the returning playoff hero that right-hander Evan Reed was.  Reed, a third-round pick in 2007 out of Cal Poly was given the #2 starter role because pitching coach Danny Clark felt Holland “had earned it” with a great Spring Training.

What Holland would earn from there on would put him on the fast track to the big leagues.

He went 7-0 with a 2.40 ERA and limited Midwest League opponents to a .228 average over his 17 starts as a LumberKing, including six innings of one-hit ball in that previously-mentioned Opening Night outing against the Kernels.  Getting better with each start and limited only by a pesky blister on his pitching hand, Holland would prove ready for the next level by the time July rolled around.  In his final three starts, he yielded just a run over 19.2 innings (a 0.46 ERA) and struck out 18.

His fantastic rise continued in the Cal League as he needed just five starts with Bakersfield to prove to Rangers brass that he was too good for high-A as well.  Added along with LumberKings’ teammate Neftali Feliz to double-A Frisco, Holland would go 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a .163 opponent average over four regular-season starts and 1-1 with an astounding 0.44 ERA (1 ER in 20.2 IP) in three playoff starts for the RoughRiders.  He’d end the year alongside Feliz as the unquestioned future of the Texas staff.

By the time late April, 2009 came around, Holland was primed for his Major League debut with the Rangers.  Not quite a full year after he was a suspicious choice for Clinton’s #1 rotation spot, he was dressing in blue and red at Rogers Centre in Toronto, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings in relief against the Blue Jays.

In parts of two Major League seasons with the Rangers, Holland has already seen his fair share of success and failure.  After dropping his ERA as low as 4.72 with three-straight wins in the rotation (including a complete-game effort against the Angels on August 9), Holland lost six of his last seven starts to finish the ’09 season at 8-13, 6.12.  This season saw Holland bounce between triple-A Oklahoma City and the Rangers, improving on his numbers significantly as he went 3-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 games, 10 starts with Texas.

And, of course, he pitched in the 2010 playoffs.  Ignore his disastrous outing against San Francisco in the World Series and he was pretty solid in relief.  The Rangers might not advance past the Yankees without his relief victory in the Bronx in Game 4.  Needless to say, Holland has made himself a fixture as either a starter or reliever heading into 2011.

For today’s edition of The Interview Vault, I’ve dug up my first recorded conversation with Derek following the first of his seven wins with the LumberKings.  He defeated the Dayton Dragons at Fifth Third Field, not far from his hometown of Newark, OH back on April 18, 2008.  Aside from talking about the outing, we also talk about his favorite team growing up — the Atlanta Braves — and his favorite pitcher from that staff, the legendary Greg Maddux.  Fitting that his current pitching coach is Mike Maddux.

Listen Here: 
Derek Holland (April, 2008).mp3

I’ve also interviewed Derek since he’s been a Ranger.  You can find that on a previous LumberBlog post here: http://mlblogslumberkings.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/holland20interview20vault-thumb-480×270-25217911.jpgarchives/2009/06/special_guest_derek_holland.html

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The Interview Vault: Danny Clark

dc interview vault.jpgThe World Series is over, and the San Francisco Giants are the well-deserved champions.  No doubt, their young rotation of Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain/Madison Bumgardner — and to a lesser degree Jonathan Sanchez — handcuffed the Rangers over the course of five games en route to the 4-1 series victory.  Only Mitch Moreland hit above .250 for the series, batting .462 with a home run and three RBI.

While the San Fran arms are sure to be the buzz around baseball all winter, there’s no doubt that the young guns of the Texas rotation and bullpen proved a little something as well on the national stage.  Colby Lewis stepped out of the shadow of Cliff Lee to prove to be the Rangers’ stopper, going 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts including the lone World Series win.  Rookie closer Neftali Feliz shrugged off doubts that he could perform in the playoffs, posting a 1.23 ERA in seven appearances including a World Series save.

Ignore the blowups in Game 2 and left-handers Derek Holland and Michael Kirkman were actually pretty solid.  The Rangers might not get past the New York Yankees without the clutch 3.2 scoreless innings thrown by Holland in Game 4 of the ALCS.  Alexi Ogando was another unknown heading into late October, and he responded with a 1.50 ERA in five postseason outings before ending up on the disabled list.

All of these pitchers (aside from Lee), at some point on their way to reaching Arlington have worked with Texas Rangers’ Pitching Coordinator Danny Clark.  Better known as “DC”, Clark was the pitching coach here in Clinton from 2007-2008 before rising to his current rank prior to the 2009 season. 

The 2008 campaign alone saw Clark teach the likes of Feliz, Holland, Kirkman, Blake Beavan, Michael Main, Josh Lueke, Kennil Gomez and Ryan Tatusko.  The year before, he guided pitchers like Kasey Kiker, Zach Phillips, Omar Poveda and Evan Reed, all right here in Clinton, IA.

Today, we’ll dust off an interview I did with DC during the second half of that tremendous ’08 year.   We talk about Feliz’s development of a breaking ball/changeup to compliment his blazing fastball, Kirkman’s revival after tough seasons in ’06 and ’07, Holland’s 7-0 start to the season, Gomez and Beavan working through struggles and more. 

Listen Here: 
Pitching Coach Danny Clark (talking about Feliz, Holland in 2008).mp3

Interestingly enough, we ran into DC just hours before Game 3 on Saturday in Arlington.  It was one of those “coming full circle” moments that baseball often provides.  I imagine that, like us, he was pretty astounded by how fast the success has come for many of his pitchers.  It’s a success I believe you’ll see around Texas for seasons to come. 

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