Under normal circumstances, Red Sox pitching prospect Durbin Feltman likely would have been targeted by other clubs this off-season. Not via trade, but via the Rule 5 Draft.
After a bounce-back 2021 season in which he posted a 2.96 ERA and 3.87 FIP with 62 strikeouts to 14 walks over 39 relief appearances (51 2/3 innings pitched) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester, Feltman was left off Boston’s 40-man roster last November.
That decision left the right-handed reliever up for grabs in the 2021 Rule 5 Draft, which was set to take place the following month. Instead, the months-long MLB lockout postponed the Rule 5 Draft indefinitely until it was cancelled altogether last week.
As a result of that move, players who could be on the verge of the major-leagues but are blocked by others in their organization were denied the opportunity to go elsewhere and potentially thrive with a new team. The Red Sox were the beneficiaries of this last year when they scooped up Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees.
Unable to live out his own Whitlock-like dream as a Rule 5 pick this year, Feltman — who turns 25 next month — recently expressed his frustration to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.
“It was frustrating and disappointing when they made that decision to not put me on the 40-man in November,” Feltman said. “So my goal my whole off-season was do everything I can to be a Rule 5 Draft pick. And then to see that canceled was kind of a gut punch — kind of like making the playoffs and them canceling the whole postseason. That’s out of my control now, so now it’s going back to work and trying to debut with the Red Sox.
“It was really frustrating when they came out with the news,” he added. “It’s kind of heart-breaking. You can’t control it anymore, so just keep going from there. Everybody hopes for an opportunity, especially with the Rule 5. It’s almost like a lottery ticket. … [When the lockout was extended], I could kind of read the writing on the wall, but I didn’t want to believe it until they actually came out with it and then it hurt even more. Yeah, it sucks.”
A former third-round draft pick of the Red Sox out of Texas Christian University in 2018, Feltman is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 48 prospect in Boston’s farm system.
While he may not have been added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last fall, the hard-throwing righty did just receive an invite to major-league spring training in Fort Myers after participating in minor-league camp. Earlier last week, Alex Cora remarked that Feltman “physically looks really good.”
The 24-year-old hurler is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Worcester’s bullpen for the start of the 2022 season. As he told Bradford, though, his goal is to make his big-league debut with the Red Sox this year.
(Picture of Durbin Feltman: Katie Morrison/MassLive)