Mario Feliciano Is No One-Day Wonder
A funny thing happened to catcher Mario Feliciano en route to his assignment to Triple-A Nashville this spring.
He first played a game in the major leagues. And, oh yeah, he scored the winning run.
It was a dizzying 24 hours for the 22-year-old Feliciano on May 1. That's when the Brewers summoned him unexpectedly to the majors because Milwaukee catchers Omar Narvaez and Manny Piña had gone on the injured list.
It was heady stuff for a player who had spent virtually all of 2019 at High-A Carolina and then lost the 2020 minor league season to the pandemic.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Feliciano, a 2016 supplemental second-round pick out of the Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico. “There’s really no words to describe it.”
The Brewers' plan was to get through the home game that night against the Dodgers without using Feliciano, then replace him the next day with Jacob Nottingham, who had been reacquired from the Mariners in a cash deal.
Sure enough, the game went into the 11th inning. Manager Craig Counsell turned to Feliciano as a pinch-hitter when he ran out of players.
Feliciano worked lefthander Alex Vesia for a seven-pitch walk. Then he scored the winning run on Travis Shaw’s two-out single as the Brewers rallied for three runs after the Dodgers scored twice in the top of the 11th.
Feliciano, who said his 2-year-old daughter said the word “papa” earlier in the day, was optioned the next day to Nashville, effectively skipping Double-A, where he played three games in 2019.
The Brewers believe in Feliciano’s bat, which was on full display during his MVP season in the Carolina League in 2019, when he hit .273/.324/.477 with 19 home runs in 116 games.
But he also has shown great improvement behind the plate, displaying great agility and a strong arm, with improved technique to help him nab even more basestealers.
Put it all together and the Brewers believe they have a future everyday catcher in the big leagues, not a one-day wonder.
— Righthander Joey Matulovich, a 20th-round pick out of California in 2018, struck out 17 hitters over 7.2 innings in his first three relief outings for Low-A Carolina.
— Lefthander Ethan Small, a 2019 first-rounder out of Mississippi State, will always remember his first professional victory. In a May 15 home game for Double-A Biloxi against Mississippi, Small pitched the first five innings of a combined no-hitter in a 1-0 victory, the first nine-inning no-no in Shuckers history. Zach Vennaro (one inning), Nathan Kirby (two) and Matt Hardy (one) completed the historic win.