#70 on our countdown of the Greatest Royals of All-Time is Carlos Febles
Uno of !Dos Carlos!
Carlos Febles was a highly touted second baseman, who combined with Carlos Beltran made up "Dos Carlos." Febles was signed as an eighteen year old kid out of the Dominican Republic and immediately hit well. In 1995, at age nineteen, he hit .282/.381/.452 in the Rookie Gulf Coast League. At age twenty, he hit .295 with thirty steals and drew more walks than strikeouts, posting a great on-base percentage of .414. In 1997 he suffered a setback in the Carolina League, traditionally a pitchers league. He hit just .237, although he did steal forty-nine bases.
Febles rebounded with a great season in 1998 at AA Wichita, hitting .326, showing surprising power with fourteen home runs and a .530 slugging percentage, drawing eighty walks and stealing fifty-one bases. Many scouts were penciling Febles as the Royals second baseman for years to come.
"Everybody who saw him knew it was just a matter of time...He's the best second baseman we have in the organization, and I know he is only going to do better."
-Wichita manager John Mizerock
Febles was surrounded by a lot of hype to begin the 1999 season. Baseball America named him the 30th best prospect in baseball, ahead of guys like Alfonso Soriano, Rafael Furcal and Vernon Wells. With second baseman Jose Offerman departing for a large contract in Boston, the Royals decided to have Febles skip AAA Omaha and gave him the starting job in Kansas City. His defense drew rave reviews, and some writers were labeling him as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate.
"My strengths are my defense, my base running. That's my game....I'm always trying to get on base, steal a base, play hard, break up a double play. That's what carried me and given me the chance now to make the majors."
After a decent April, it looked like Carlos had figured out Major League pitching. In May he went on an absolute tear, hitting .364 with twelve extra-base hits, and he lifted his average to .310 by the end of the month. With teammate Carlos Beltran hitting .291, it really looked like the Royals had two legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates.
Beltran would maintain his amazing season, but Febles would soon drop off as pitchers began to figure him out. He hit just .237 in June and .216 in July. He ended the season at .256, although he did show decent power with ten home runs and a .411 slugging percentage, not bad for a twenty-three year old rookie second baseman. He also stole twenty bases, getting caught just four times.
Coming off a decent rookie season, many projected Febles to be the second baseman of the future. There were a few internet rumors linking Febles and Royals outfielder Johnny Damon as part of a massive three-team trade that would send Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati, but in the end, Griffey went to Cincinnati without the Royals involvement.
Febles opened up 2000 as the Royals starting second baseman, and again got off to a hot start, with his average near .300 by mid-May. The Royals were also riding high, with some dramatic walk-off victories to begin the year, and by Memorial Day they still had a .500 record. But the success would be shortlived, both for Febles and the Royals. Febles would miss most of June with a shoulder injury, and would hit just .200 the last two months of the year, missing more time with an ankle injury. He would end the year at .257 in just one hundred games with an anemic .316 slugging percentage.
Career Games Played at Second Base, Royals History
- Frank White - 2154
- Cookie Rojas - 789
- Carlos Febles - 493
- Jose Offerman - 291
- Terry Shumpert - 250
Febles still held the starting job in 2002, as many scouts still saw flashes of potential in him. Some considered him and shortstop Neifi Perez, one of the best defensive double-play combination in the American League. Again, Febles got off a a hot start, hitting .300 in mid-May. He would hit just .179 over the months of May, June and July, and it would take a red hot August to resurrect his average to .245.
The Royals still held out hope for Febles in 2003, but brought in utility infielder Desi Relaford to provide competition in case Febles could not stay healthy. The Royals got off to a sensational start that year, winning nine ballgames to begin the season and stood 16-3 near the end of April. Febles managed to stay healthy, but was pretty anemic offensively. In August, the Royals had enough and designated Febles for assignment, and he spent the rest of the season in Omaha.
That winter the Royals finally let Febles go. He would sign with the Red Sox and play one season in Pawtucket before calling it quits.
Today, Carlos is a coach for the Red Sox, his playing career already over at age 31. He has been named as a coach for the Lancaster Barnstormers. His career is symbolic of the Allard Baird era in Kansas City. It was an era in which we were always being sold on potential. That potential would show flashes of brilliance only to hide again, like a groundhog that spotted its shadow.