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Good Neftali Feliz article

Thom Henninger has done a nice piece on Feliz for Baseball America. Here are a few excerpts:

"There are plenty of guys who can light up a radar gun," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "There are two things that stand out with Neftali and how he does it. One is the ease with which he throws the ball with very little effort. Some big flame-throwing guys have very unsound mechanics in order to generate all that force behind the ball. It almost looks like Neftali is playing catch and the ball just explodes out of his hand.

"Secondly, a lot of guys who throw with that velocity can't command it. The pitch might be 97, 98 on the radar gun, but it's a foot out of the strike zone. When you actually have to throw a strike, it's much more hittable at 91, 92. Neftali has shown to this point that he's able to throw a strike with that velocity."

Then it was off to Clinton this spring. Feliz said LumberKings pitching coach Danny Clark had been instrumental in making his curveball better.

"Danny likes to work hard," Feliz said. "He likes to push pitchers. He said I had an OK curveball when I came here, but we have worked hard on it and I can throw it whenever I want now."

Clark said it was easy for Feliz to dominate Midwest League hitters with his fastball, so it was necessary to get the young prospect to call on his offspeed stuff more as the season progressed. In his last few weeks with Clinton, Feliz had to throw his curveball enough to meet a certain percentage of his overall pitch count.

Daniels said Feliz's promotion had little to do with his velocity. He noted that the prospect's overall command and changeup have been markedly better in 2008, and he's shown a much-improved curveball in many of his starts, making the entire package more effective.

"He really needed a new challenge," Daniels said. "He wasn't being challenged in that league, and we felt he was ready for the next step."