Prospect Profile: James Farris – South Bend’s Most Improved Player
As a starter in college, James Farris took the ball once a week for the University of Arizona. And he did it well too, winning a national championship in 2012. Farris pitched 7 2/3 innings in the championship game, allowing one run on two hits. He did not get the win as Arizona rallied to defeat South Carolina, however, the event did show how Farris could handle pressure.
In 2013 and 2014 Farris returned to Arizona to pitch. 2013 did not go as well, as Farris struggled most of his junior year. Then his senior year in 2014 saw a drop in velocity. However, Farris struck out 100 batter in 113 innings to go with a 3.40 ERA.
Here are his career stats at Arizona.
Here is a video that the University of Arizona put out celebrating Farris’s career with the Wildcats. It is also good for showing the late movement on his pitches.
Life as a Cub in 2014
Farris was taken in the ninth round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Cubs. He uses an upper 80’s to low 90’s fastball with extreme late movement and a wicked biting slider/curve that breaks late at 1 to 7 on the clock. He works quickly and doesn’t walk many.
The Cubs had different ideas for Farris in 2014. Because he already had thrown 113.2 innings in college ball, Farris was used strictly as a reliever. Rather than go to Arizona Rookie League like most draftees, he went straight to short-season Boise. In 7 games, Farris pitched 14 innings but struck out an amazing 21 batters! He had a solid ERA of 2.57 for his time in the Northwest League.
Transitioning at Low-A South Bend
I envisioned Farris as a starter coming into this year. I thought that with four years at a Division I school and a NCAA Championship ring, he would be placed in the rotation. I was wrong.
Currently, Farris is the closer for the South Bend Cubs; itt has been a strange year for him though. Originally, Farris was a setup man piggybacking for two innings a pop after a starter was taken out. His job was to simply get the ball to Jasvir Rakkar, the closer.
In April, Farris struggled quite a bit as he adjusted to his new role. His ERA shot up above 5 and it was not looking good for the young right-hander. The only positive was that he struck out a lot of batters; in 11 and 1/3 innings, he fanned 17. That’s a little more than 1.5 per inning or 13.5 per 9 innings.
Then everything changed at the end of April. Rakkar was promoted to Myrtle Beach and an opportunity presented itself.
In May, Farris has thrown 8 and 2/3 innings and is 6 for 6 in save opportunities. For the month, his era is 0.00 and it has gone from 5.00 on April 24th to 2.37 as of May 25th. His K total of 12 is close to his 1.5/inning strikeout performance noted earlier. For the month of May, he allowed a total of five baserunners; 3 by hits and 2 by walks. He is almost automatic.
The 6’2” righty is clearly the most improved player on the team in just one month. In adjusting to his role, Farris is enjoying that he gets to throw with maximum effort each time out.
As for the future, his late breaking stuff is made for the closer role, as it allows him to be a two-pitch pitcher. As long as he has his command down, either of his weapons will be effective because of the late break.