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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Who's This Brady Feigl Guy?

One thing we have grown to expect when spring training opens is articles about obscure players we've never heard of who are impressive early on. These guys often don't amount to a lot beyond digital fodder to keep from writing the same articles about Melvin Upton's failures, Nick Markakis's neck, or Freddie Freeman's leadership.

With that in mind, let's meet Brady Feigl. Now, Feigl has little shot to win a spot in the Braves bullpen this spring even as wide open as it certainly is. The lefty is behind several names on the depth chart, notably James Russell, Josh Outman, and Luis Avilan. Even if he pitches well, he has appeared in all of 38 games since signing with the Braves as an undrafted free agent. His goal isn't so much to break camp with the team, but to continue to impress Fredi Gonzalez as former Brave David Hale did in the 2013 spring camp. Hale went back back to the minors, but was a guy Fredi wanted to get a look at toward the end of the season and going into 2014, that gave him a leg up.

In this modern era of nationwide scouting, long and informative databases, and easily available videos of players, it is truly rare to see an American pitcher land a deal after not being drafted in the long-ass major league draft. It's even rarer for that player to make such an impression. But the Braves have had a bit of luck in this category. After all, Brandon Beachy was undrafted when the Braves swooped in. But Feigl wasn't even signed until TWO years after graduating from college.

Feigl, who also graduated from Old Mill High School in Millersville, Maryland, probably wouldn't have been such an obscure name had he not suffered a torn labrum following an impressive freshman season with Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, MD. Without that injury, Feigl likely would have been drafted even though Mount St. Mary's is hardly a baseball force (haven't had a former player in the majors since 1933). But because of the injury, he struggled in his sophomore season and missed his entire junior year. He made it back to the mound for his senior campaign, but his numbers were down and he left school with a diploma and no professional contract.

He headed to Annapolis and worked as a high school pitching coach while making side money giving baseball lessons. He returned to the field during the 2013 summer for some action against other players trying to hold onto a dream before heading to an open tryout. Like recent profiled Random Ex-Brave Tom Thobe, the open tryout did little to attract more attention, but a chance meeting with his former Mount St. Mary's coach led to an invitation to take part in the college's scout day. Feigl showed good low 90's heat to compliment his curveball and attracted the attention of Gene Kerns...the same guy who discovered Beachy in a 2008 summer league.

Feigl came to camp last year and earned a spot with the Rome bullpen. Not much was expected of the 23 year-old, but he solidified a spot in the bullpen with amazing control as evidence by his 6 unintentional walks in 43.2 ING. He wasn't amazing by any means, but solid enough that he caught the eye of the front office. That culminated in a promotion to Lynchburg in mid-July. He was lights out as a Hillcat striking out 23 in 22 innings, walking just four, and posting a 0.69 WHIP over 13 outings. He even earned his first professional save, going the final 2/3's in a six-inning game called because of rain.

As far as I can tell, he did not play any winter ball and it was a little surprising that he received an invite to spring training a year after needing to earn a spot in the system, but the team clearly likes him. Again, it's highly unlikely we see Feigl with the Braves in April barring a series of injuries or aliens taking the skills from our left-handed pitchers in a baseball version of Space Jam. But...if he pitches well and continues to impress Fredi and Roger McDowell, he might be on the fast track in the majors.

Random aside: There are two Brady Feigls. The other is a freshman at Ole Miss. He pitches right-handed. We can call our guy Lefty Feigl and they can call their youngster Righty Feigl. I smell a sitcom!

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