Prospect Retrospective: Pedro Feliz
Pedro Feliz was signed by the Giants in 1994, as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic. As a 17-year-old, he hit just .193/.215/.193 in 38 games in the Arizona Rookie League. He went 23-for-119 with ZERO extra-base hits, which seems very hard to do. At this point he would have rated just a Grade C-, if you wanted to give him a grade at all.
Promoted to the Northwest League in 1995, he increased his batting average some 80 points to .274. His plate discipline remained poor, and he hit just 2 doubles and 1 triple in 43 games. He improved substantially compared to '94, but again he'd rate just a Grade C or C-. . .no plate discipline, no power.
In '96, Feliz moved up to the Class A Midwest League, hitting .265/.310/.361 for Burlington. He started to show a bit more pop, hitting 5 homers and 12 doubles, but his strike zone judgment remained poor. His best attribute at this point was age: he was still just 19. He was not in my 1997 book, but a retrospective grade would be C. . .he'd improved, but still had a long way to go.
The power finally started to show up in 1997, as Feliz hit .272 with 14 homers for Bakersfield in the California League. I noticed the power spike, as well as good defensive reports at third base, and gave him a Grade C+ heading into 1998. At the time he was often referred to as "Pedro Felix."
Promoted to Double-A for '98, Feliz hit .264 with 12 homers for Shreveport. His plate discipline was dismal, as he drew just 9 walks in 100 games. His strikeout rate wasn't bad, just 62 Ks. He swung at too many pitches outside the strike zone, but he actually managed to make contact more often than not. I demoted him to Grade C- heading into 1999, although in retrospect that was a notch too low. He still had substantial development time ahead of him, and while I was rightly concerned about the miniscule walk rate, I should have paid more attention to the fact that he wasn't striking out that much for a power guy
Feliz returned to Shreveport for '99, hitting .253 with 13 homers; his numbers were very similar to '98, showing little growth. I demoted him to "the back of the book" with other marginal prospects for 2000, although I did increase his grade back to plain Grade C, realizing that the C- the previous year had been too low.
Feliz hit .298 with 33 homers and 105 RBI in Triple-A in 2000. His strike zone judgment improved from horrible to mediocre, with a resulting increase in his power production. I gave him a Grade B moving into 2001, impressed with the progress he had made in Triple-A.
Feliz spent 2001 through 2003 as a platoon player for the Giants, then broke through as a regular in 2004. He has excellent raw power, although his plate discipline remains shaky and he can be streaky. His batting average and OBP will never be reliably good, but if he can maintain his current power output, he will have a successful career.
He is a case study in how traditionalists would LIKE raw young players to develop. It's taken him time and effort to refine his talent, but he has done it. Sabermetrically, his two best attributes in the minors were youth and a reasonably low strikeout rate for a power hitter. His inability to draw walks was a huge handicap, one that has ruined many similar players.
Because of his hitting style, Feliz will never have a big margin for error. Once his bat speed starts to drop, his production will tail off quickly. But that might not happen for another five years.
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