The Mets are expected to callup outfielder Jesus Feliciano from Class-AAA Buffalo in time for tomorrow’s game against the San Diego Padres. After toiling for 13 seasons in the minors, Feliciano will finally get his first taste of big league action. Coincidentally, the promotion and realization of his Major League dream may even be announced officially tonight, his birthday, when he turns 31 years old.
Feliciano will be fresh off of his big five hit game on Saturday, the second time he has accomplished the feat this season. He currently leads the International League in batting with an eye-popping .392 mark going into yesterday’s action. The next player behind him is batting .328 - almost seventy points behind him.
Some believe that a promotion was long overdue, and even expected Feliciano to win a job as a 5th outfielder out of Spring Training, especially after he won the Mets player of the year award last season when he batted .311 with a .382 on-base percentage. This season, Feliciano has been far more impressive:
About the only thing missing from Feliciano’s game is power, but he can be useful for a team like the Mets who have been woeful off the bench. The Mets decided to part ways with the worst of the lot in Gary Matthews Jr., thus creating a spot for the lefthanded hitting Feliciano. His agent had this this to say regarding him before the weekend,
“With the season that he’s having in Triple-A and with the form he has played the last three years batting over .300 in the minors, finally, in the next few days, Feliciano would have the opportunity to see his dream realized. Minaya has said he knows it will be this week when he gives him the opportunity.”
He was signed by the Mets as a free agent on February 1, 2007, and was initially drafted by the Dodgers in the 36th round in 1997.
“I had a great winter-league year, including the Caribbean Series. I won the batting title there,” Feliciano said. “I prepared myself to have a good year. You don’t think it’s going to be a year like the year I’m having right now, but I was expecting to have a good year.”
Feliciano hit .315 in 2007, .308 in ’08 and last year with Buffalo, he hit .311. He has been a model of consistency at the plate over these last four seasons and I believe he will be a nice addition for the team.
The Mets have already made some vast improvements from their minor leagues this season, and have added some key players to their current makeup in Ike Davis, Elmer Dessens, Ruben Tejada and Chris Carter. For a system that has been considered barren by many, the Mets continue to pull rabbits out of their hats, and Feliciano is going to be their next trick.
Mets infielder Alex Cora knows Feliciano well and believes Feliciano could be successful in the majors if he got a break. Cora, who like Feliciano also hails from Puerto Rico, played with Feliciano during the World Baseball Classic where he impressed on-lookers by batting .375 in six games in the ’09 WBC.
“He’s one of these guys, you’ve got to see him play every day to really appreciate what he does,” Cora said. “He’s not the fastest guy. He doesn’t have power. Whatever. But day in and day out he’ll do something to help the team win. I’ve seen it firsthand. I saw it in winter ball and then I saw it in the WBC. Since three or four years ago, he hasn’t stopped hitting. He gets the barrel to the ball.”
Feliciano has played mostly centerfield and rightfield this season and last, and could prove to be far more greater in a reserve role than GMJ was. He could spell Francoeur against tough right-handers, get some time in at centerfield to keep Pagan fresh, but most of all, he now gives the Mets a viable option as a pinch hitter off the bench.
I’m looking forward to seeing him get some action in the series against the Padres, maybe even picking up a start for one of the games..