Scouting Rangers Prospect #44: Jose Felix

Catcher Jose Felix capped off a strong 2010 campaign with an impressive all-around showing in the Arizona Fall League. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 22-year-old prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jose Felix
Position: Catcher
DOB: June 28, 1988
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 198
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: Signed as free agent in January 2008

The Texas Rangers technically signed Jose Felix as a free agent prior to the 2008 season, though the club had to pry him away from the Mexican League.

Felix made his professional debut with Quintana Roo of the Mexican League as a 19-year-old in '07, hitting .247 in 58 contests against the generally much older competition.

The 5-foot-10, 198-pound backstop showed promise as one organization's more intriguing defenders during his first state-side season at Single-A Clinton in 2008. He moved forward to High-A Bakersfield in '09.

Repeating Bakersfield in 2010, Felix improved his offensive numbers across the board. After posting a .241/.282/.294 slash line with the Blaze in '09, Felix batted .282/.326/.367 in 73 games last season before earning a promotion to Double-A. Felix continued to hold his own in the Texas League, going 28-for-105 (.267) with three doubles and one home run.

The Guasave, Mexico, native is certainly best known for his defensive skills, but his bat has taken big steps forward over the last year. The Rangers assigned him to the Arizona Fall League earlier this offseason, and he responded by going 17-for-49 (.347) with four doubles.

While playing with the Surprise Rafters in the Fall League, Felix gunned down seven of the 10 attempted base stealers. He drew praise from Rafters (and High-A Myrtle Beach) pitching coach Brad Holman.

"He's everything you ask for from a player from work ethic to a student of the game to just a good person," Holman said. "He's also talented, obviously, which is most important. But to add all those intangibles makes him a pretty special player. He carries a good rapport with the pitchers."

Felix turned the heads of scouts, coaches, and his peers with one particular play during a Fall League game. On a pitch that was well outside and in the dirt, he lunged, picked the ball, and erased the runner at second in one motion.

"That particular pitch was an 0-2 count," Holman said. "And in talking to Jose after the game, he said that, because it was a pitch significantly out of the zone, he cheated. He figures that if the hitter swings at it, he's a really bad hitter.

"So he cheated and came forward and picked it and then threw the guy out. I got him at like 1.9 (seconds), which is a good time for a catcher when he catches the ball in the air, let alone when he picks it out of the dirt."

After getting 13 games of experience against upper-level competition in Arizona, Felix moved on to play for his hometown Guasave club in Mexico. Despite playing just a couple times per week, he continued to shine by throwing out seven-of-nine base stealers. He went 7-for-34 (.206) at the plate, with two of the knocks being round-trippers.

Also See: Rangers Minor League Notes (March 18, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Notes (June 6, 2010)
Rangers Minor League Mailbag (August 27, 2010)
Rangers sending eight to Arizona Fall League (September 7, 2010)
Lone Star Dugout Q&A: Brad Holman (November 12, 2010)
Rangers Fall League Wrapup (December 2, 2010)
Seven teams, seven sleepers (December 26, 2010)

Batting and Power: The 22-year-old repeated High-A Bakersfield last season and showed marked offensive improvement, becoming a more mature hitter mechanically. He stayed square in the box with more consistency instead of pulling his front foot out, as he had done at times in the past.

Felix is an aggressive hitter but doesn't swing and miss often due to his great hand-eye coordination. In 384 plate appearances between Bakersfield and Frisco last season, he walked 18 times (4.7%) and struck out just 31 times (8.1%). Though Felix isn't a wild hacker, if he becomes a little more patient, he'll allow himself to see better pitches and should improve his numbers.

Overall, Felix's bat doesn't project to become much more than passable as a backup, but it could be good enough to land him a full-time big league job eventually. He's a solid contact hitter that shows some gap-to-gap power when he squares up on a ball.

Base Running and Speed: Felix is a below-average runner that isn't a threat on the base paths. In his three state-side professional seasons, he has totaled four stolen bases in nine attempts. Though his speed keeps him from taking extra bases, he shows good awareness and doesn't run into many outs.

Defense: Between High-A, Double-A, the Arizona Fall League, and Mexican winterball in 2010, Felix combined to erase 72-of-124 (58%) attempted base stealers. Though he doesn't have elite arm strength––it's about solid-average overall––it plays up because of his accurate throws and extremely smooth mechanics. Felix consistently posts above-average pop times from behind the dish. Like most young backstops, he's still refining his receiving and game-calling skills, and he should become above-average at both. Felix is regarded as a hard-working prospect that should maximize his tools.

Projection: While Felix's limited offensive skills keep him from projecting as a starter, the overall defensive package has a chance to carry him to the big leagues as a future backup. Felix also draws praise from those within the organization for his leadership skills and ability to command respect from his teammates––two solid attributes for a catcher. As a backup, he won't need to be an impact hitter––if he hits just a little bit, he should get an opportunity to carve out a long big league career.

2011 Outlook: Felix should open the 2011 campaign as the everyday catcher at Double-A Frisco. He got his first taste of the Texas League after a late-July promotion last summer, appearing in 27 games with the ‘Riders. Felix could likely handle Triple-A defensively right now, but his offensive game will need more seasoning. A mid-to-late season look at Round Rock probably won't be out of the question.

ETA: 2012.

2007 Quintana Roo (MX) .247 162 6 1 21 12 1/6 9 29 .284 .302
2008 Clinton (A) .262 302 10 1 24 30 2/4 15 38 .300 .305
2009 Bakersfield (A+) .241 320 15 0 34 35 0/2 16 45 .282 .294
2010 Bakersfield (A+) .282 248 13 2 31 27 2/2 17 25 .326 .367
Frisco (AA) .267 105 3 1 6 7 0/1 1 6 .274 .324

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