Ryan Feltner, pitcher for the Albuquerque Isotopes, has returned to the minor leagues after a plentiful season with the Colorado Rockies. Anticipating a good season despite its shaky start, Feltner and his team are putting team relationships at the forefront this year.
Formerly the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year for Ohio, Feltner was drafted in 2015 by the Toronto Blue Jays but elected to attend Ohio State University. Feltner was later drafted from Ohio State in 2018 by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round. Since then, Feltner has worked his way up through the Rockies’ minor league affiliates. Feltner said he carries a deep appreciation for team bonds wherever he plays.
“No matter what team I’m with … different teammates, different groups of guys … being able to make those friendships and have them last, it’s a lot of fun,” Feltner said.
Feltner has been well recognized as a talented pitcher and pitched in his first major league game in a September 2021 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Isotopes pitching coach Frank Gonzales noted his talent and intelligence but values his devotion to the team most of all.
“(Feltner is) a smart, cerebral kid. Very prepared, very likable. Quiet but communicative,” Gonzales said.
Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer is glad to have Feltner on his team and can already attest to his hard-working nature.
“Being the manager I operate differently with the pitchers. I don’t watch them practice necessarily, so we just have one-on-one conversations,” Schaeffer said. “(But Feltner’s) got everything you want in a starter … He’s a great kid, wants to be good, (a) hard worker … I could tell from the start.”
Following a 2021 season wherein he played for four different teams, Feltner is prepared to settle a bit and work through all he’s learned.
“Last year was a whirlwind for me because I played on so many different teams,” Feltner said. “But being able to have that experience of being in the big leagues kind of shed some light on what things I need to work on. So I’m glad for that experience because it taught me a lot and I think I’m better for it.”
So far, Feltner has started at pitcher in two games for the Isotopes, April 5 and April 10, both against Oklahoma City. In those appearances, Feltner pitched 10 innings, gave up 12 hits and five runs and currently has an ERA of 3.60.
The team is still developing, according to Shaeffer. He anticipates that soon the group will be well acquainted, and a familial bond will begin to form to the benefit of the men both as individuals and teammates.
“It’s good, it’s early (and) it’s developing … We’re learning (about) each other … Eventually we’re just going to be meshing right together,” Shaeffer said. “We’re with each other … six days a week for seven months, for 15 hours a day, so it becomes like a family.”
The feeling of being a part of a family that Schaeffer senses is not uncommon for baseball teams, and it happens to be Feltner’s favorite part about the game.
“(My favorite thing is) being with my teammates, no matter what team I’m with,” Feltner said.
Natalie Jude is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @natalaroni or at firstname.lastname@example.org