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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Durbin Feltman looks for a quick rebound

He was supposed to fly in 2019. Instead he stalled out.

Durbin Feltman
Kelly O’Connor;

Following a five-spot run on starting pitching, we came back around last time out with our second straight position player and were looking to keep that run going here, but the streak ended very quickly. We also ended a streak of five straight players who hadn’t made it beyond short-season ball. We do have a fairly recent draftee in this spot, but one who was pushed up the system before stalling out in a big way. I speak, of course, of Durbin Feltman, who comes in at number 24 on our list after getting 33 percent of the vote.

The right-handed pure reliever was fairly well-known coming out of college, not really because he was an elite draft prospect but rather that he was one who could move quickly. We all know that the MLB draft works differently than any other league in that even the best players are generally a few years away from making a real impact. Every year, though, there are some players who have an impact to make it quickly, and perhaps even in that same draft year. In 2018, Feltman was viewed as most likely to do that. I think some people conflated that “most likely” tag with just being straight “likely” to make it, and my understanding was that he was more likely to make his major-league debut the following year in 2019. Of course, neither happened.

But we’ll back up just a bit with Feltman coming off a strong junior year at TCU as their closer and headed into the draft ranked in the back half of the top 100 prospects by both MLB Pipeline (70) and Baseball America (87). The righty ended up falling to the third round where the Red Sox grabbed him. Like I said, I don’t think the Red Sox were ever counting on him making the majors in that first summer, but they did plan on pushing him as far as they could. Feltman was very impressive in that debut, too, pushing across three levels from Lowell to Greenville to Salem. In all, he made 22 appearances for 23 13 innings, pitching to a 1.93 ERA with 36 strikeouts and only five walks.

Coming off of that strong season and given not only the tag of player most likely to make the majors first from that draft class but also, and more importantly, the tag of a future closer, 2019 was to be a big year for Feltman. Again, the Red Sox weren’t super inclined to push him too hard and he wasn’t likely to make the bullpen out of camp, but the plan was to start him in Portland and if he pitched well to potentially get to the bigs in June or July. Unfortunately, Double-A is where he hit the wall. Feltman never made it beyond Portland in 2019, turning in one of the most disappointing seasons in the system. He made 43 appearances for the Sea Dogs with 51 13 innings, pitching to a 5.26 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 31 walks. He did have his best month by peripherals at the end of the year to end on a high note, but there’s no sugarcoating how bad this month was.

Feltman, was one might expect given that he is a pure reliever and basically always been, is a two-pitch guy. He has a big fastball that can come in consistently in the mid 90s and gets near triple digits at times. It also has a little bit of movement at the end that can make it devastating when it’s commanded well. Last season, it was not commanded well consistently enough. That is the biggest thing he needs to work on if he is going to become the pitcher we had hoped. He pairs the fastball with a slider that can be a true out pitch at the highest level. The stuff is there and it was still there last year as well. It’s just about throwing it where he needs to.

It’s certainly too early to write off Feltman, but he also doesn’t really have the leash that some other 2019 disappointments like Antoni Flores may, just because of his age and the fact that some (but not all) of his value came from how quickly he was supposed to make the majors. I would expect him to get a chance to have another go at Double-A whenever baseball starts back up again with the hope that it will be a quick stop once again. Essentially, I would just restart the timeline they were hoping for in 2019 and hope we’ll just look back at that as a hiccup in an otherwise smooth career.

Here is our list so far:

1. Jeter Downs

2. Triston Casas

3. Bobby Dalbec

4. Bryan Mata

5. Noah Song

6. Gilberto Jimenez

7. Jay Groome

8. Jarren Duran

9. Thad Ward

10. Tanner Houck

11. Matthew Lugo

12. C.J. Chatham

13. Connor Wong

14. Nick Decker

15. Cameron Cannon

16. Marcus Wilson

17. Aldo Ramirez

18. Brayan Bello

19. Ryan Zeferjahn

20. Chris Murphy

21. Chih-Jung Liu

22. Bryan Gonzalez

23. Antoni Flores

24. Durbin Feltman

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...