On Saturday evening before the Dust Devils’ game versus the Hillsboro Hops, EVT had the chance to speak with San Diego Padres’ pitching prospect Ignacio Feliz. The 19-year-old righty was polite and genuine in the conversation, which further illustrated his aptitude to become a better pitcher. Here is a brief Q & A with him.
(Translated from a conversation in Spanish)
Q: First of all, how are you feeling this season?
A: “I feel really good — I’ve had a good season thus far. I’m a little bit tired, but I just want to finish the season strong.”
Q: Roughly one year ago you were traded from Cleveland to San Diego — How has the transition been in terms of changing organizations?
A: “I mean honestly, I never thought they would trade me [Cleveland]. But it really wasn’t that hard for me, and I got to face some of my old friends from Cleveland later on. It wasn’t really a big deal, aside from some small changes. For the most part, things have remained the same, and I’ve been treated really well [by San Diego].”
Q: You’ve played shortstop in the past, so has that helped you in your work on the mound?
A: “I think that they’re very different — shortstop and pitching. When you’re playing shortstop, you have a lot more pressure to throw the ball quickly. Playing there, the mechanics of throwing the ball are very different from pitching. There’s also a difference in the work you put into each position.”
Q: Can you talk briefly about the pitches you throw?
A: “I think my best pitch is my Fastball because I can command it well. I use my curveball the most among my secondary pitches and less often throw my changeup. I’m actually thinking about working on another pitch in the offseason though. I’ll see if I can get some help developing another pitch for next season during the upcoming offseason.”
Q: Maybe a Slider?
A: “Yes, maybe — I was thinking perhaps a cutter or sinker.”
Q: Do you have any goals for the rest of this season?
A: “Definitely — My goal is to finish this season strong, god willing. I always thank god for that. Only god knows what will happen. We have 16 or 17 games left. I just try to always stay positive.”
It was a refreshing conversation with Feliz, who is still 19. Based on the discussion, you would guess that he is much older.
When he was out stretching and throwing with the other pitchers on the team, Feliz was loose and joking around, even dancing briefly. Nonetheless, he was intensely focused when throwing during drills pre-game. In the conversation, it was clear he wanted to give honest answers to each question. This is a guy who seems just to get it, which is key for a player working his way up the minor-league ladder.
If there’s anyone who looks set to break out next season at Fort Wayne, it sure seems like Ignacio Feliz can be that guy. While I had read the scouting reports on his physical gifts and such, which were impressive, it was the pitcher’s personality that has me convinced that he can be a quality big league pitcher someday.