The Next Johan Santana? Michael Feliz not Protected by Astros

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One top Astros prospect may never get to wear the Astros hat. At 3:00 pm today the Houston Astros announced adding RHP Vincent Velasquez and IF Ronnie Torreyes to the 40 man roster which sits at 38 with the Bass and Zeid being out righted. This leaves the #8 (Michael Feliz) and #12(Delino Deshields jr.) out of the top 20 Astros Prospects according to mlbpipeline.com.

Astros add Torreyes and Velasquez. Michael Feliz, Jandel Gustave, Delino DeShields are unprotected

While I believe that Deshields should have been protected, the biggest potential loss is Michael Feliz. Feliz was signed in 2010 by the A’s, before being hit with a 50 game suspension for testing positive for steroids. Following the suspension, he signed with the Astros, and pitched last season in Low Class A Quad Cities. Here was Jeff Luhnow’s justification for not protecting Feliz.  

“The success rate of pitchers going from Low A to the big leagues is miniscule. It’s a risk that we’re wiling to take at this point”-Jeff Luhnow via Drellich

So Luhnow paid attention during 7th grade math as they learned about probability. The odds of a Low A prospect sticking on a major league roster is the number of successful Rule V claims divided by the total number of attempts for a Class A pitcher sticking. Don’t forget to multiply the decimal by 100 to change to a percent Jeff. But any math teacher will tell you, there are experimental probability and theoretical probability, and that some times the odds are not in your favor.

The problem with Jeff’s probability argument is that all the other General Managers skipped that day of school. They don’t see the probability of failure, they see a power arm who could help their bullpen at the very least. Stick them in the bullpen for a year, then send him to triple A the next season to be stretched out to be a starter the next year.

“I can’t see Feliz not sticking in someone’s pen. He will sit 94-98 (if not more) in 1 IP stints. Slider comes and goes but solid at its best”-JJ Cooper

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  • Plus going back to math side of things, there are always outliers. Scatterplots always have points that don’t follow the trend. Isn’t that the purpose of the Rule V draft? To take a chance on someone, and hopefully you strike gold such as the Twins did when they got Johan Santana from the Astros in ’99.

    “Is true few LoApitchers stick in Rule 5. Best examples: Wei Chang Wang (R), Johan Santana (LoA), Derrick Turnbow(LoA), Jorge Sosa (SS)”—JJ Cooper

    So while you might see the value of keeping a player who can become the next Geoff Blum in Torreyes, is it worth losing someone who could be a valuable contributor in 2016? Yes, the Astros system is flush with pitching prospects, but they lost Nick Tropeano in the Hank Conger trade and if they lose Feliz, that’s two less pitching prospects.

    But baseball is a business, in business you are supposed to take risk in order to become better. This is a risk that Jeff Luhnow and Co. feel comfortable with. They might have something up their sleeve, but I have a feeling that Astros fans who have been following the farm system are not going to be happy about this. Take a look at what this kid has done in the minors so far.

    Feliz Minors Numbers

    Why stockpile a bunch of prospects if you can’t keep them all? We will see what the Rule V draft brings during the meetings. Lets hope that Luhnow is right about him not sticking, but, don’t the Rangers need some starters?

    Which of the three top prospects do you think we will lose in the Rule V draft?

    (Feliz has been added to the 40 man roster as of 10:00 CT. Good time not to gamble)

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