A prospect perspective

One of the things that Seattle Times writer Larry Stone does at this time of the year is head to Florida to catch up with former Mariners.

In this blog post, he found former Timber Rattlers pitcher Ryan Feierabend, who was a Midwest League All-Star in 2004.  Feierabend was the winning pitcher for the West in that game.  He is now with the Philadelphia Phillies.

I had a nice chat in the morning with Feierabend, who is trying to resurrect his once-promising career, derailed in Seattle by Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago. On the surface, the Phillies’ organization seems an odd place to land — it’s not like there are many openings in the rotation — but he had an advocate in the Phillies’ system in Benny Looper, the former Mariner farm director, and thought it was a great place to learn from the best.

“Seattle let me go in early November, and I ended up signing with Philly a week or two later,” Feierabend said. “Things fell into place where it’s the right organization, not necessarily getting to the big leagues, but working with the pitching staff here. There were other opportunities available where I might have had a better chance to pitch in the big leagues, which you want to, but you want it to be the right circumstances. This year, I feel I need to get more innings under my belt. If I do happen to get to the big leagues, great; if not, I’ll throw my innings, as many as I can, if I’m a starter. And if I’m a reliever, show them what I’ve got.”

Feierabend, 25, pitched in parts of three seasons with the Mariners (2006, ’07 and ’08), and though he had far more downs than ups (he was 2-11 with a 7.22 ERA in 19 starts), the Mariners always liked his potential. But after last year’s 5-8, 5.14 mark during stops at A, AA and AAA, they took him off their 40-man roster, making him a free agent.

Stone asked Feierabend his thoughts on some current Mariners prospects.  But, the main focus – for my purpose – is on former Rattler Michael Pineda.

Pineda’s a specimen. I can’t say enough good things about him. I think this year it’s going to be one of those years, a confidence builder. He goes into spring training, and as long as he does well in spring, I think the sky’s the limit for him. I think if he goes down and gets knocked around and gets his head down, they might send him back to Triple-A, but as long as he goes in with his head held high, like, ‘This is my job as a starter this year,’ he’ll do fine for them.”

I asked him if there was any comparison to a young Felix Hernandez, whom Feierabend watched as he shot through the system.

“I think there is. Pineda is obviously a lot bigger than Felix was. They both have unbelievable, unbelievable stuff. I think maturity wise, Felix is a little more mature. Not to take anything away from Pineda at all. I just think Felix was a little more mature for his age. Once Pineda gets his confidence, he’s going to be right there with Felix.

That is a heady comparison.

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