When we first featured Jacob Faria in May of 2014 (CTD: Jacob Faria) the young right-handed pitcher was in the midst of his first assignment at a full season affiliate. As a member of the Bowling Green Hot Rods starting rotation, Faria took his turn every five days starting in 23 contests. The Tampa Bay Ray prospect put up solid numbers finishing the season with a 7-9 record while striking out 107 batters over 119 innings of work. He also showed impressive control only walking 32 batters and finishing the season with a WHIP of 1.21. Faria, a 2011 Rays draft pick out of Gahr High School was young for the league as the then 20-year-old was almost two years younger than the average player in the Midwest League.
The Rays promoted Faria to their Advanced-A affiliate, the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs, to kick off the 2015 season. Since the first pitch Faria delivered, he has caught fire. In 9 starts and 2 relief appearances due to rehabbing major leaguers, Faria has picked up a baseball leading 10 victory’s. That doesn’t just lead the Florida State League, that leads all of baseball including the major leagues where Gerrit Cole leads the league with a 9-2 record in 12 starts. Faria also leads the Florida State League league with his 1.47 ERA and is 3rd in strike outs (60) and 6th in WHIP (1.00). The now 21-year old has put up these impressive numbers once again facing competition that on average is two years older than he is.
Faria’s success can be credited to his talents on the mound but also to the chemistry he has achieved with his battery mates behind the plate. “Chemistry with the catchers is huge. I have had (Armando) Aaiza for the last three seasons, so me and him know each other pretty well,” Faria said. “He knows what I like to throw and I know what he likes to call in certain situations. Knowing what to expect from him and what he expects from me it makes it a lot easier out on the mound.”
Aaiza isn’t the only catcher Faria has worked with this year he has also thrown to Maxx Tissenbaum who is in his second season with the Stone Crabs. “I never threw to Tissenbaum last year even in spring training since he was with the high-A guys all year. I threw to him for the first time in spring training and we have gotten to know each other really well this year,” Faria said of the back stop. “He has learned what I like to throw and we have worked out great so far this season.”
Faria also credits his off-season work and the defense behind him as reasons for his success during the first half of the 2015 season. “I worked on a few things in the off-season that have helped with my delivery and also I worked on the mental side of things making sure I’m stronger mentally. I can go out there on the mound and have confidence in my stuff. It makes it easy to throw strikes and stick to the game plan on any given day,” Faria said. I always like to give credit to the defense behind me. They make it easier for me to go out there and attack guys the way I want to because I know they are going to make the plays behind me and get outs. ”
The Stone Crabs have already graduated Blake Snell and Ryne Stanek two of Faria’s rotation mates to Double A, yet the Stone Crabs still have a very impressive and talented starting five. The Rays have done a great job drafting and acquiring young talented pitchers over the last few seasons. While Faria’s statistics across the board may warrant a promotion Faria knows he still can improve his game. “I just need to keep working on my consistency. It keeps improving start by start during the season and there is stuff that me and Steve Watson my pitching coach keep working on every day,” Faria said. “I just have to keep doing what I am doing and if they want to make a move with me that is really out of my control.”
In his most recent appearance, Faria was matched up against a rehabbing Jose Fernandez who many believe will be competing for a Cy Young award for many years to come. Faria picked up his 10th win of the season while Fernandez picked up the loss. While some of the big name pitching prospects all around baseball get weekly press clippings, Faria has been flying under the radar becoming one of baseballs best kept secrets. It’s only a matter of time and a few more consistent performances that Faria will be joining names like Giolito, Glasnow, and Severino as one of the top young pitching prospects in the game.