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Neftali Feliz, 2014 Texas Rangers
We've chronicled the sad, unfortunate story of Neftali Feliz a few times here.
You know the one, can't-miss prospect hits the big leagues at an extremely young age, wins AL Rookie of the Year honors while closing out games for the Rangers en route to two straight AL pennants. He did so well, in fact, that the Rangers decided to give him a crack at the starting rotation where he promptly was shelved with elbow soreness and later underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012.
Since then, it's been one big uphill climb for Feliz in trying to solidify a spot on the Rangers' big-league roster as he's toiled in Triple-A Round Rock all season — at times looking dominant and at others being extremely hittable.
"I lost a little bit of my mechanics," Feliz told MLB.com. "Before my surgery, I was throwing almost 100. Now, I'm throwing 94, 96-97 sometimes."
Feliz is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in 20 appearances with Round Rock, and Joakim Soria has taken Feliz's former role and run with it in Arlington after winning the closer's job out of spring training as a former all-star closer, himself.
There have been a few times this year when it seemed Feliz would be back in Arlington, due to the mass amount of injuries to the Rangers' pitching staff. Instead, he keeps getting passed up for guys like Aaron Poreda and most recently Ben Rowen.
Round Rock skipper Steve Buechele told MLB.com that Feliz shows plenty of big-league talent, but he's still struggling with the day-to-day consistency of being a good reliever.
"I think if there's one thing I've seen, it's just, he's inconsistent. And I think he's gotten better. He can't come into a game and walk the leadoff hitter. He has to be able to come into the game, the back end of the game, and get outs," Buechele said. "He's done it. And we've seen him do it, but I think he needs to do it on a consistent basis."