Ryan Feierabend has came along way since being selected by Seattle fresh out of high school in the third round of the 2003 June draft, and the left-hander is still only 18 years old.
Playing at Mid-A Wisconsin in 2004, he has settled into a starters role and faired quite well. Through four games, he's made a good impression with a 3-1 record and 3.74 ERA.
He's already thrown his first career complete-game shutout, coming in an abbreviated seven inning victory over Burlington on April 22. Not bad for a kid still three months from his 19th birthday.
"My first start was real shaky," said Feierabend. "I only threw one inning. It was a game that I needed to get all the jitters out. The second game I was much calmer and more prepared mentally to pitch well."
Feierabend has had baseball in him since the day he was born. His grandfather was a ballplayer who could have been drafted out of high school, but turned down the offer because to try to make a living a different way (where have those days gone?).
Feierabend was introduced to the game of baseball at a younger age than most kids. In fact, he started playing when he first started to walk. By the age of four, Feierabend started little league, and from there, he kept playing throughout elementary school and into high school at Midview High in Grafton, OH.
"My days back in high school were pretty fun. I played ball with a bunch of good guys," Feierabend said, looking back. "Most of them didn't go on to play ball in college. They went
on to play football instead."
Feierabend's senior year of high school was more than a success. It was brilliant. He went 6-3 with a microscopic 0.68 ERA, adding 102 strikeouts in 51.1 innings of work. For his amazing abilities on the baseball diamond, he was named the Lorian County Player of the Year, an honor he received twice in his high school years.
"Being selected as the best player in Lorian County and being the first person ever drafted out of Lorian County is a big honor," a grateful Feierabend said.
In 2003, Feierabend was drafted by the Mariners and sent to Peoria to take part in the Arizona League from July 15 to the end of August.
He enjoyed the eye-opening first season.
"I was pretty estatic," said the left-hander of his memories of draft day. "I really didn't know that the Mariners were interested in me at all. I never really saw them at any of the games. They were pretty quiet and when I got the call from them I was more than happy.
"The Arizona League was a lot of fun, but the desert was really hot so I am glad to get out of there."
As a pro, Feierabend has caught on fast and made an easy transition from high school to the minor leagues. He said it's been a new world pitching in the pros, going against better hitters each time you head to the mound.
"In high school I was more dominate," said Feierabend. "You have to prepare yourself a little different to face batters in the minors than in high school because in high school you can blow it right by them, but here they are use to guys throwing 95-96 so you have to go about it differently with a different game plan."
One player that Feierabend looks up to in the Major Leagues is future Hall of Fame pitcher Roger Clemens.
"(Roger) Clemens is a hard worker," explained the young southpaw. "He is always going at it no matter
what. He is still pushing the younger guys to get even better and I hope that I can go as long as he has."
Feierabend has a lot of goals that he wants to accomplish, but the biggest one, by far, is to make it to follow in the Rocket's footsteps and make it to the Major Leagues.
"I am not here to be a minor league guy. I am here to get to the big leagues," said Feierabend.
Only 18, he's on the right track.
Ryan Feierabend: On The Right Track
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