Feltner takes a good first step: 'Great talent'

February 28th, 2024

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rockies rotation candidate quickly figured he didn’t need to waste time or pitches, or even think much.

The starter in the Rockies’ 4-3 loss to a Royals split squad, Feltner gave up a hit and a walk over two scoreless innings. The right-hander’s best sequence was an eight-pitch second inning, after a 20-pitch first.

At times in his 32 Major League appearances over three seasons, Feltner has seen potentially solid outings spin out of control when he couldn’t put innings away. But just before he missed four months with a fractured skull, Feltner committed to being a power pitcher and saw progress.

Feltner, who maintained velocities at 97-98 mph, can be given to overthinking. That wasn’t a problem Tuesday.

“Zero,” Feltner said, when asked how much he scouted the Royals before the game. “I’m typically that type of guy, but I didn’t do that today. It was good to see [veteran catcher Jacob] Stallings back there and work with him for the first time. We were just trying to get on the same page.

“That was an aggressive lineup. I didn’t really know that they were going to be that way going into the game. That was a game where [with a normal pitch count] I would have done some things differently, as far as approach. But it’s good to get quick outs, especially as a starter.”

Maybe Feltner doesn’t have to be all that different when he’s expected to pitch deep into a regular-season game.

“He’s got great talent,” said Rockies manager Bud Black, who groups Feltner with fellow righties Dakota Hudson, Peter Lambert and Noah Davis in competition for two rotation spots. “Sometimes overthinking can get in the way of performance. No matter who you’re playing, it comes down to location. No matter what the hitter’s weaknesses are, you’ve got to get the ball down and away, you’ve got to get the ball up and you’ve got to change speeds. As a starter, you’ve got to work both sides of the plate.

“He can make pitches, because he’s got good stuff.”

• Switch-hitting Michael Toglia finished last year with a .109 average from the right side against left-handed pitching. His adjustments were reinforced with an RBI single on the first pitch he saw from Royals lefty starter Daniel Lynch IV in the first inning. Meanwhile, Toglia’s work as a left-handed hitter has paid off with two homers this spring, one a pull shot and the other to the opposite gap.

• From the leadoff spot, Sean Bouchard displayed his strike-zone discipline with walks in his first two plate appearances. He also stole second base against Lynch and catcher Salvador Perez. Bouchard is 0-for-1 in steal attempts in 48 regular-season games over two seasons. But the makings of a runner are there. Bouchard stole 22 in Class A in 2018, and had 12 in Triple-A in '22, the year he debuted in the Majors. Bouchard ran on Tuesday because of Lynch’s high leg kick.

“He’s a savvy player,” Black said. “Against a lefty with a big leg kick, you can maybe take advantage, going on the first move.”

• Rockies prospect Yanquiel Fernandez drew gasps of excitement and concern when he leaped and crashed into the right-field wall to rob the Royals’ River Town of an extra-base to end the seventh inning. Fernandez stayed down for a few seconds, but climbed to his feet before a trainer could make it out to see him.