Durbin Feltman retired the only three hitters he faced in order on Thursday night in a perfect ninth inning of work to secure a 8-0 Red Sox win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
In three relief appearances and 2.2 total innings of work this spring, the 21-year-old right-hander has yet to surrender a run on one hit and three walks to go along with five strikeouts.
Those numbers may look good on paper, but according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Feltman still has some things to work on.
“He’s still learning,” Cora said Thursday night. “Delivery-wise there are a few things Dana (LeVangie) has noticed. He’s a work in progress, but he’ll be a good one.”
The Red Sox selected Feltman out of Texas Christian University with the 100th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft.
In his first professional season, Feltman posted a miniscule 1.93 ERA over 22 relief appearances and 23.1 innings pitched between Single-A affiliates Lowell, Greenville, and Salem. He also recorded 36 strikeouts over that span while holding opponents to a .207 batting average against.
Compared to just the five walks he allowed in the minors last year, the free passes have been somewhat of an issue this spring, as the Texas native is averaging more than 12 walks per nine innings in 2019, albeit a small sample size.
Still, Feltman, who is ranked as Boston’s fifth-ranked pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has received a fair share of attention at Fenway South.
Given the likelihood he starts his first full professional season in Double-A Portland, it would not be all that surprising if we see the hard-throwing righty up with the big league club at some point later in the year if he continues to impress out of the bullpen in the minors.
The potential is certainly there, but one thing the Red Sox don’t want to do is rush Feltman’s development. The same could also be said for the club’s top pitching prospect in Darwinzon Hernandez.
Both Feltman and Hernandez have opened eyes this spring, but that does not necessarily mean they are ready to contribute on the biggest stage right now.
Granted, with the way the Red Sox bullpen is shaping out, the two could be needed sooner rather than later, but I rather see how they fare without being rushed up to Boston.