Last night my friend Rich and I ventured across to Dr. Pepper Ballpark to see Neftali Feliz pitch against the Arkansas Travelers. Coincidence that the Angels' Texas League affiliate is in town at the same time as the big club? Probably.
We had a great view of Feliz from two rows behind the Travelers' dugout. My Clif's Notes version of his outing: Impressive for most of his 5 IP. The things that immediately jumped out at me about him are that the smooth delivery and seeming effortlessness of his pitching are true. He throws gas the way I throw crumpled up balls of paper in the trashcan. For most of the first three innings he consistently worked his fastball from 96-98 mph according to the stadium gun. He easily dialed it up to 99 on several occasions for out pitches. From our angle I didn't get a good feel for his offspeed stuff...my impression is that he has a pretty good change but that his breaking stuff is there but either needs more development or that he's not used it that much up to this point.
The only possible flaw I saw about Feliz from my vantage point was that I think he tipped a few of his pitches to runners on 1B. 4 of the 5 Travelers' SB were on Feliz. On the last two, I noticed he was bringing the ball down behind his right leg and I could easily see him changing his grip on it from my seat, which means that it must have looked like it was up on the jumbotron for the runner on first. I think the Travelers picked up on that early on and ran on him when he gave them the chance by throwing breaking stuff. I didn't notice any SB on him when he was more circumspect with the ball.
The game beyond Feliz was pretty disappointing. The Travelers had a horrible record coming into this game, but the Riders played like the April edition of the Rangers after Feliz left...Garr and Diaz pitched batting practice and combined with committing 3 errors and giving up a 3 run shot to a guy hitting .107 coming into this game, the Travelers blew a close game wide open.
This was also my first time to see Borbon and Andrus. Borbon's got serious wheels. I didn't get a very good feel for his outfield defense, but he's a demon on the basepaths and looks pretty adept at getting on. Andrus was a little harder to get a read on...he missed several balls at short, but I think that most of those were balls that his athleticism got him close to, not balls that he should have had. I did see one bobble on a routine play, but it was a minor thing that was still an out at first. We were treated to one of the funnier moments of the evening when Andrus was caught in a rundown and the Travelers' 1B dropped the ball when he went to tag Elvis.
And if there were 6,139 people at that game then I'm Governor of Texas. There must have been a whole lot of no shows.