Feyereisen is Top Division III Pro Prospect
UW-Stevens Point junior pitcher JP Feyereisen, a River Falls graduate, is one of the top Division III prospects for next month’s MLB draft, according to Baseball America.
By Jason Cox Leader-Telegram staff Leader-Telegram
MENOMONIE — JP Feyereisen is no Jordan Zimmermann. But there is no way for the River Falls native to avoid hearing the inevitable comparisons to the Washington Nationals All-Star. They have too much in common.
Both are an athletic 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. Both are right-handed pitchers that throw hard and like to go right at hitters. Both had breakout seasons in the Northwoods League that made them highly touted Division III prospects. And to top it all off, both played at UW-Stevens Point.
“To be compared to him is a great honor, but I’m nowhere near where he is,” Feyereisen said Sunday after his Pointers team took a pair of games from UW-Stout. “He’s an All-Star at the highest level. But it’s a great honor to be somewhere in his category.”
In high school, Feyereisen was a third-team all-state selection as a senior at River Falls and was named the MVP of the state tournament. He had a solid freshman year at UW-Stevens Point, but it was in his sophomore season a year ago that he really started pitching well. He went 7-2 with 2.69 ERA and was named the WIAC pitcher of the year.
Feyereisen went on to play for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters last summer. Although he was a starter at UW-Stevens Point, his low-90s fastball and hard slider made him a perfect fit for the end of games, so the Rafters made him their closer, and he dazzled in the role.
He went 3-1 with 11 saves and an ERA of 1.16 that summer. And after good showings in both the Northwoods League All-Star game and prospects showcase, he was suddenly on the radar of a bunch of pro scouts.
“I think the Northwoods League definitely helped out a lot,” Feyereisen said. “When you face some of the best college players in the nation every single day and all the pro teams see that, it makes you look a lot better.”
Before his junior season started at UW-Stevens Point, Feyereisen found out that he’d been even more impressive than he thought. Baseball America named him the No. 1 Division III prospect in the country.
“I was definitely surprised because there are a lot of great Division III baseball players,” Feyereisen said. “But it was a great thing to be awarded and I was pretty excited about it.”
It’s Feyereisen’s live fastball that has the scouts most excited. He consistently throws in the low 90s but has been clocked at 94 mph.
“It has a real feel faster than that just because of his quick arm,” Pointers coach Pat Bloom said. “He’s the type of kid that if you haven’t faced him before, the ball really gets on you early.”
With a lot more eyes on him for his junior year, Feyereisen hasn’t been quite as dominant as expected this season for the Pointers. He’s 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA in eight starts.
“I think that extra attention can be unnerving at times when you’re not used to seeing all the radar guns and scouts with cameras leaning over the fence when you’re throwing your bullpen,” Bloom said. “But if you want to have that opportunity, you have to learn to deal with it. I think that JP has worked to make some adjustments through the season and he’s learned to deal with that extra attention, and we hope that some of his best baseball is still ahead of him here in May.”
Feyereisen said he’s focused on helping pitch the Pointers make a run in the postseason, but considering he’s always dreamed about being a professional baseball player, he can’t help but be excited for the MLB Draft, which is June 5-7.
There isn’t much doubt that Feyereisen will be drafted. He’s been in touch with scouts from every Major League team, so there’s plenty of interest. It’s where he’ll go that remains the mystery. Bloom said he’s heard as early as the top 15 rounds. Maybe even the top 10.
But with the MLB draft, there is almost always uncertainty. Some scouts saw Feyereisen on a good day. Others caught him when he didn’t have his best stuff. Bloom said that makes it hard to figure out what the consensus is among scouts, if there is one at all. What Bloom does know is that Feyereisen’s fastball and good slider that tops out in the mid-80s won’t allow him to drop too far.
“He has that hard stuff that guys look for that translates at the pro level,” Bloom said.
Feyereisen is working on a curveball and a changeup to complete his repertoire, but those pitches are still a work in progress. He doesn’t have the complete arsenal that Zimmermann, a former Eau Claire Express pitcher, had when he was drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft. Feyereisen likely won’t go that high, but that won’t stop the comparisons.
“Anytime that a guy does something like Jordan did and makes it to the big leagues, I don’t think that there’s any way to fairly compare, and I don’t want to put that on JP’s shoulders,” Bloom said. “JP is working to carve his own niche. We certainly wish the best for him and his family and would love to see another Pointer make it to the Major Leagues.”
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.