PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Rays camp, it was No. 9 prospect Jacob Faria. A 10th-round Draft pick in 2011 out of
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities this month, we will be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Rays camp, it was No. 9 prospect Jacob Faria.
A 10th-round Draft pick in 2011 out of Gahr (Calif.) High, Faria made tremendous developmental strides in 2015, pacing all Minor League pitchers with 17 wins while also finishing with the third-best ERA (1.92) and the sixth-most strikeouts (159). The 22-year-old right-hander's first-half performance in the Florida State League netted him co-Pitcher of the Year honors, and he was just as dominant after moving up to Double-A Montgomery, where he held opposing hitters to a .194 average and recorded 96 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings over 13 starts. In November, the Rays added Faria to their 40-man roster.
MLBPipeline.com: You spent three years in Rookie ball before making your full-season debut in 2014, and then had one of the better seasons among all Minor League hurlers last year. In your opinion, what do you believe led to your breakout performance?
Faria: Last year, I put a big emphasis on the mental part of the game. I always used my workouts for physical purposes, but last year I really made a point to make it just as much of a mental workout. It went a long way in terms of helping me stay strong and consistent for the entire season, and I was able to have some success in the process.
• Rays' next wave of pitching prospects nears bigs
MLBPipeline.com: You allowed one hit and struck out seven batters in 5 2/3 innings this year in your first big league camp. What was that experience like?
Faria: Big league camp was great. I had a chance to talk to and learn from some great guys like Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi. We talked about using different pitches in different situations, but I also just keyed in on them and watched how they go about their business and prepare themselves.
MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports
MLBPipeline.com: Is there anything specific you're working on right now? In general, how are you feeling this spring?
Faria: I learned a cutter during the offseason, but I haven't thrown it much in camp so far. I'm mostly working on it on the side during bullpen sessions. My arm feels better this year coming into camp than it ever has before. I put on about 30 pounds this offseason, and my entire body just feels a lot stronger. I'd like to cut down maybe five or six pounds before the season to get to a steady weight, but everything feels great.
MLBPipeline.com: What is the next step you need to take in order to reach the Major Leagues?
Faria: Just stay consistent and take what I accomplished last season and have it carry over into this season. I don't worry about when I'll get to the big leagues or anything like that. I'm just trying to control what I can control and allow the rest take care of itself. If it happens, it happens.
MLBPipeline.com: Though I think I may already know the answer, what is the greatest pitching performance of your baseball career?
Faria: Definitely last year at Double-A Montgomery when I threw a seven-inning no hitter with 14 strikeouts against Biloxi. Actually, I almost threw a perfect game at Class A Bowling Green in 2014. I threw a complete-game with one hit and no walks, and that one hit was a double that my left fielder dove for and it hit off the tip of his glove. So I guess you could say I came a few inches shy of a perfect game.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.