Feliz, a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, signed with the Yankees as a free agent in July of 2008 when he was only 16 years old. He spent the majority of last season playing in the Gulf Coast League and was promoted to high-A Tampa for a ten-game stint towards the end of 2010.
For the 2011 season he settled in the middle of the two leagues, playing for the low-A Charleston RiverDogs, where he had a little trouble finding his rhythm.
"He was just getting a handle of the league," explained Charleston's hitting coach Greg Colbrunn of Feliz's struggles this year. "He had a tough time early in the season with the breaking balls, changeups, changing speeds of pitches. But over the last month or so he's done a good job of recognizing pitches and continuing to stick to his approach."
Feliz acknowledged that at the beginning of the season he had not made the necessary adjustment with his hitting to have the success he wanted. He had been working on drills with Colbrunn over the course of the season and he began to see improvement.
His batting average was less than satisfactory for the first couple months of play, but in June it began to pick up as he hit .250. July proved to be an even more productive month for the 19 year old as he hit .277.
"I've been concentrating more and started thinking positive and stuff starting connecting for me," Feliz said through the help of a translator.
Although the switch-hitting Feliz has started to break through, one of his struggles this year has been his strikeouts. With 123 strikeouts he ranked in the top five of all players in the South Atlantic League with the highest strikeout totals this season. The month of July showed less strikeouts per at-bat, but Feliz, with as many walks in August already as he had in all of July, hoped to have even less strikeouts in August.
"He's got a tremendous bat speed from both sides of the plate, some impact when he hits the ball, great range, and the arm," Colbrunn said. "He's got the athleticism to move on up to the big leagues, but for now he's only 19 years old and making improvements on a daily basis."
Feliz's total batting average for the 2011 season is currently .228 with 90 hits, including five home runs and 37 RBI. If he can keep his hitting consistent with what he has been doing for the last two months, he should be able to better those numbers over the last few weeks.
"I'm trying to read the rotation on the ball," stated Feliz of what he's working on currently. "I want to get my batting average up and strikeout less for the rest of the season."
"He's putting together better at-bats on a consistent basis and having good games back to back," praised Colbrunn. "He's continuing a good approach. To finish up strong, build on what he's done for the last three weeks and continue getting better is what we're looking for."
Feliz Having Better At-Bats
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