Jake Faria: Back on Track
Jake Faria’s Triple-A debut was exactly what a top pitching prospect dreams of. The right-handed pitcher needed just 82 pitches to get through six scoreless innings, and allowed just two hits and one walk, while striking out six Lehigh Valley IronPigs batters.
Faria looked ready to cruise through Triple-A just like he had in High-A and Double-A last season.
As a 22-year-old in his fifth minor league season in 2015, Faria was expecting to take another step in his development.
“Last year I came into the season with a new changeup, some new delivery things,” he said.
That changeup helped carry him to a quick 10 wins in 12 games with High-A Charlotte, and he was promoted to Double-A Montgomery in the middle of the season.
“Early on in the season we had a ridiculously good pitching staff,” Faria said. “I think we just fed off of each other. It just made every one of us better. We put up a lot of runs, so every win was a team effort. There weren’t many 1-0 wins.”
Toward the end of his time with Charlotte, Faria recognized that he was racking up wins, but when he got to Montgomery he lost track of his total. Late in the season, he earned his 17th win of the year between the two levels, and the Minor League Baseball world took notice.
He finished a breakout 2015 with a 17-4 record and 1.92 ERA in just under 150 innings pitched. He also rang up 159 strikeouts for Charlotte and Montgomery, finishing with the sixth-most strikeouts in Minor League Baseball behind teammates Blake Snell and Jaime Schultz.
Coming into this season, he knew those marks would be hard to replicate.
“I’m not trying to repeat the exact same year, because that’s really tough,” Faria said. “You can’t do that every year. Just trying to build step by step off of every game. Trying to continue the process I’ve been doing the last few years and see where it takes me.”
After another half of a season with Montgomery, it took him to Triple-A and Durham. Faria noticed the big differences between the two highest levels of the minors in his first game.
“The first game I threw against (Phillies prospect) Jake Thompson, which is a huge name,” Faria said. “He’s really good and always had good numbers, so that was kind of a big deal.”
The addition of more former major-leaguers in opposing lineups was the biggest change to Faria. He recalled facing one player with major league service time in Double-A, and that had been a big deal. Now it’s an everyday occurrence.
“Even on our team you have J.P. (Arencibia), who has been in the big leagues for at least four years, you have Dana (Eveland) who has been in the big leagues for four or five years. Especially in games when you’re facing guys who have been in the big leagues, guys you used to watch on TV. Like, I want to be that guy and now you’re playing that guy,” he said.
Faria kept building off of his past success with 42 strikeouts through his first 38 Triple-A innings. But after the All-Star break, he got off track for two brief starts.
“In the Syracuse game I was throwing everything for strikes, but after a certain amount of hitters it was just too late,” he said. “I just kept doing what I did when I first got here — attacking hitters. I got away from my game plan a little bit, throwing certain pitches in certain counts, but once I got back to the basics I got back on track.”
After two rough outings, Faria bounced back with a quality start. He allowed just six runs over those three starts to wash away the memory of those two previous starts.
Faria said, “If I can get through the first inning I’m really comfortable, but once I get the first time through the lineup and get a really good look at their hitters, that’s when I’m really relaxed and settled in.”
Faria enjoys a 3-1 record at the DBAP with a 2.15 ERA, and said he appreciates that Bulls fans embrace and support the team so well in the stadium and even around the city. Recently, he was recognized by Double-A Southern League managers as having the best changeup in the league this season in a Baseball America survey.
With slightly more than a month in Triple-A under his belt, Faria has overcome his first hurdle at the highest level of the minor leagues. Now that he’s back on track, he is ready to continue his climb to the big leagues.