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What to expect from Houston Astros rookie Michael Feliz

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Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros rookie right-hander Michael Feliz had a very impressive spring training: 1.72 ERA in 15.2 innings, 16/6 K/BB. This earned him a spot on the 25-man roster. Although widely regarded as one of the better pitching prospects in baseball, his long-term role with the club remains to be determined.

From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:

Michael Feliz, RHP, Houston Astros
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 210 DOB: September 28, 1993

2014: Grade B; 2015: Grade B+

Known facts regarding Michael Feliz: 93-95 MPH fastball with peaks at 97-98. Flashes a plus slider. Flashes a solid-average change-up. Command is quite impressive for a power pitcher, at times. Questions regarding Michael Feliz: can he gain enough consistency with his secondary pitches and his command to be a starter, or will he wind up in the bullpen? Most people at this point seem to make the relief assumption. The logic behind that is understandable but I have not given up on him as a starter yet and the grade reflects it. Grade B+. I am the high guy on him, for better or worse, but he still looks like a very impressive prospect to me and perhaps a victim of observer/analyst/fan fatigue.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY

Feliz holds the last spot on the pitching staff and will open the year in the bullpen as the designated long reliever. This deployment, of course, does not tell us much about his future usage. From a long relief role you can transition to the late innings and possible save situations, or you could easily move into a rotation if you have experience as a starter in the minors, which Feliz has.

The general thinking around the game is that he'll be a reliever but this isn't completely unanimous and I think the change-up has enough potential to warrant further patience. That's just my opinion, however, and it is a minority view. If you are thinking in pure baseball terms, Feliz is damn intriguing no matter his future role. If you are thinking in fantasy terms, beware that there's at least a 50% chance he winds up as a reliever long-term and adjust your expectations accordingly. In the meantime, expect Feliz to rack up some strikeouts out of the pen but as the 25th man, his leash will be short.