When the Milwaukee Brewers acquired River Falls native JP Feyereisen from the New York Yankees late last season, he still wasn’t sure where he’d be when spring training opens for the 2020 season.
Just before the trade, Feyereisen had been selected to play for Team USA in its bid for a spot in the 2020 Olympics. The catch? Feyereisen could only play for Team USA if he wasn’t on the Brewers’ major league roster. Complicating matters was the fact that the soon-to-be 27 year-old would be eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft, meaning another team could pluck him away from the Brewers for $50,000.
But the picture became a lot clearer Tuesday, Nov. 20, when the Brewers officially added Feyereisen to their 40-man roster, ending his tenure with Team USA but ensuring he’ll be reporting to big league camp with the Brewers in February.
“It’s a dream come true really,” Feyereisen said. “I know for Mom and Dad it’s going to be nice. It will be like taking a trip to Stevens Point when I was in college. They just have to drive to Milwaukee to see me play. So yeah, it’s awesome.”
Feyereisen was the WIAC Pitcher of the Year in 2014 at UW-Stevens Point, and grabbed the attention of major league scouts as the closer for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the prestigious Northwoods League that summer. He was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB draft and was one of four players traded by the Indians to the New York Yankees in 2016 for all-star closer Andrew Miller.
A 2011 graduate of River Falls High School, Feyereisen earned all-state honors as a senior, and just a week after being named the tournament MVP while leading the Post 121 American Legion team to the 2011 state title, he was the winning pitcher for the River Falls Fighting Fish in the championship game of the 2011 Wisconsin Baseball Association State Tournament.
Feyereisen has dominated batters throughout his five-year minor league career, pitching to a 2.49 ERA across 307.2 innings in 217 appearances. He had a big season at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, going 10-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 40 relief appearances, with seven saves and 94 strikeouts in 61⅓ innings.
Now he’s one step closer to fulfilling his major league dream with what he considers his hometown team-- the Brewers.
“They’ve actually never seen me throw in their uniform yet, but the fact they put me on the roster means they’ve seen what they want to see,” he said.
Brewers president of baseball operations and general manager David Stearns confirmed that fact Tuesday with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“We think he'll contend for a spot in our bullpen in the spring,” Stearns told the Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt. “He really changed who he was last year, got a ton more swing-and-miss. We like what we saw from him. We were able to make the deal largely because the Yankees didn't think they could protect him heading into this offseason.
“We saw a situation where we might have the roster space to protect him too and ultimately were able to. We expect him to be a guy who can contribute at the big-league level next year.”
Feyereisen got a taste of the big-league atmosphere playing for Team USA at the WSBA (World Baseball Softball Association) Premier 12 Tournament earlier this month in Mexico and Japan. The tournament served as a qualifier for baseball at the 2020 Olympics and featured the 12 highest-ranked national teams in the world. Team USA advanced to the Super Round in Japan and Feyereisen pitched one inning in Team USA’s 4-3 win over Japan in the Tokyo Dome Nov. 12 before the US ended the tournament with a 3-2, extra-inning loss to Mexico in the Bronze Medal game. Still, Feyereisen said it was an experience he will never forget.
“It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “Mexico was awesome but then when we got to Japan; the fans there and the people there really love baseball. It was incredible. I don’t think I’ll play in an atmosphere like that again until I play in playoff baseball or the World Series.”
He said he’s excited to try and achieve that dream with the Brewers beginning next spring. And he said his friends and family in River Falls are just as excited to see him play in Milwaukee.
“When I got traded the last time my mom and dad went out and bought a bunch of Yankees stuff,” he said. “Now they just have to go to their closet.”
Feyereisen will report to Brewers spring training in Phoenix with the rest of the team’s pitchers and catchers Feb. 12.