NEW YORK — Three weeks after Brady Feigl was considered for a jump from Single-A to the Braves’ opening-day bullpen, the pitching prospect is out for the season.
Feigl had Tommy John elbow surgery Tuesday and faces the standard rehabilitation of at least 12 months. He felt pain in his elbow in his first relief appearance of the season April 10 for Triple-A Gwinnett.
Dr. James Andrews repaired the 24-year-old pitcher’s torn ulnar collateral ligament.
“Officially joined TeamTJ yesterday,” Feigl wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “Gotta stay hungry and focused. I’ve been down before and will prevail again. Never give up on the dream.
Feigl, a former independent-league pitcher who went undrafted out of college, made a name for himself during spring training and would’ve been expected to make his major league debut this season.
He was dropped from the spring-training roster midway through camp, but the Braves decided to bring back a couple of pitchers to take another look at them as opening-day roster candidates. Feigl was brought over from minor league for several more Grapefruit League games and continued to impress, and wasn’t eliminated from consideration for the opening-day roster until the last days of camp.
“Here’s a guy who almost made the team out of spring training,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “This is how fragile these pitchers’ arms are. He almost made it out of spring training, and in his first outing (at Gwinnett) he got hurt. Now he’s out for Tommy John the rest of the year.”
Feigl’s interesting and unusual back story became more widely known during spring training, after he caught the attention of Braves coaches and team officials in the opening days of spring training. His was the first name former manager Bobby Cox mentioned when a reporter asked Cox early in camp who was this year’s darkhorse to make the team.
Feigl drew attention from major league scouts back in his freshman year at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, before shoulder surgery for a torn labrum wiped all or parts of his remaining three seasons. He was out of organized baseball for a year but kept his arm fresh in a low-level Baltimore summer league that featured some college players and a lot of former players like Feigl who just wanted to continue having fun playing ball.
HIs former college coach invited him to participate in the school’s Scout Day, where Feigl threw in the low-90 mph range and got noticed.
Braves scout Gene Kerns, who had signed Brandon Beachy out of an independent league, saw Feigl at that October 2013 day session at Mount St. Mary’s and offered a spring-training contract.
Feigl needed to show in 2014 minor league camp that he was good enough to be on one of the Braves’ farm teams. He did, and went on to post a 3.02 ERA and 60 strikeouts with only 13 walks last season, including a 2.05 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 22 innings after a promotion from low Single-A Rome to high-A Lynchburg.
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