Walk this way with Red Sox pitching prospect Durbin Feltman

BOSTON, MA - MAY 18: A sunset during the fourth inning at Fenway Park on May 18, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 18: A sunset during the fourth inning at Fenway Park on May 18, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Sometimes a prospect has to regroup after a sensational start in 2018 and that is happening to Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Durbin Feltman. The issue is a simple one – walks.

How much things can change in a short period of baseball time and they have for Boston Red Sox prospect Durbin Feltman. Feltman is a 22-year-old righty who was selected in the third round of the 2018 draft out of Texas Christian University where he was a closer. A position Feltman immediately shifted into when he was signed.

Durbin impressed and rapidly moved within the system from short-season Lowell (A-), to Greenville (A), and finishing out 2018 with Salem (A+). And at each stop, the results were well beyond positive. Feltman’s three-team adventure yielded 23.1 innings, a 1.93 ERA, 1.9 BB/9, and rather remarkable attention-getting 13.9 K/9. Feltman in his travels allowed exactly zero home runs.

"Feltman has a devastating pair of pitches that could make him a closer in the Majors. His fastball combines velocity (95-97 mph to 99) with running action and deception. Batters also have difficulty picking up his mid-80s slider, which has depth and is a wipeout pitch at its best.In addition to blowing hitters away, Feltman also can throw them off balance with a decent changeup. Though he has three pitches, he’s definitely a reliever because he’s relatively small and there’s effort in his delivery. He’s wiry, strong and durable, however, and does a nice job of locating his pitches where he wants. – MLB Prospect Watch"

Feltman had the one attention-getting tool that baseball glitterati love – a high 90’s fastball, but Feltman covers it up with an equally devastating slider – both delivered with accuracy. The natural reaction is for Red Sox fans to start thinking big-time closer and soon, but then comes that change mentioned and this season it certainly has.

Feltman is on the Portland roster and so far the results have not been encouraging in the small sample of 11 games and 12 innings. The good news is Feltman has just a 5.3 H/9 and continues to whiff batters with an 8.3 K/9, but then comes the downside and that is a 9.8 BB/9. That is no typo. Do we now have a Steve Blass or a Daniel Bard in the making? Feltman has also allowed two home runs.

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Walks to pitchers are like garlic or sunlight to vampires – they will kill you. Career kill you as mentioned previously with Bard. Walks have an evil twin and that is pitching behind in the count. Even the remarkable Chris Sale is vulnerable as batters have a .352 career average against Sale when he goes 3-1. Goes 2-1 and is a less painful .286. When Feltman gets behind you, just sit for number one down Broadway.

Just what is wrong with Feltman? In college, Feltman had a 2.9 BB/9 for three years and 88.1 innings. Last season as a professional that went even lower. Is it panic time? Is Feltman the new Craig Hansen? Is the kid ready to dissolve into silly putty?

"“I definitely did not have command,” said Feltman. “I feel like if I have command, you’re not going to touch my stuff. But when I get hit is: I just walked the last batter on four straight balls and then if I’m 1-0 the next guy, behind in the count, I’ve got to groove a fastball and damage is done. You can’t do that at this level” – Durbin Feltman"

Feltman has the confidence of a closer and all the attitude it takes. Feltman reflects on his recent lack of success without a litany of excuses that is all too often the trademark of a player. Feltman has no injury and is still throwing heat, but throwing is one thing and locating is the other.

"“Boston is going to come. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just when for me. I look at it that way. So I’ve got to take care of business here, because if I don’t take care of business here I’m not going anywhere.” – Durbin Feltman"

Next. Memory Lane: Red Sox scout Luke Wrenn. dark

Feltman has a target and that target is pitching at Fenway Park. In the offseason, a Feltman to Fenway in 2019 was considered a possibility since he looked that good. Now that may be delayed as Feltman regroups and gets his game back in gear.