In the ninth round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Arizona Wildcats senior RHP James Farris was drafted by the Chicago Cubs as the 259th overall pick.
Last year, Farris was drafted in the 15th round by the Houston Astros (437th overall). He decided to return to Tucson for his senior season to be the leader of the Wildcat pitching staff, and put pro ball on hold for one more year.
As the "leader" this year, Farris posted a career-best 3.60 ERA, but the Wildcats failed to record a win during Farris' starts for nearly two months during Pac-12 play.
His 6-6 record in 2014 was the second-consecutive season that the right-hander finished with a .500 record.
He came onto the scene during the 2012 National Championship run, where he turned in a 7 2/3 inning performance in the CWS-clinching win over South Carolina and Michael Roth. Farris allowed just one run on two hits and two walks in that start, but did not get the decision as the Wildcats scored three runs in the 9th to take the lead and ultimately take home the crown.
As the third starter in 2012, Farris went 7-3 in 17 starts, and posted three complete games. One of those three complete games came in the Tucson Regional against Louisville.
2013 was a little bit of a downturn, which was the case for almost every Arizona pitcher. Only one complete game with a 5-5 record and an ERA of 4.18. It was the second-straight year that he punched out exactly 73 batters on the year.
The strikeout numbers picked up in 2014 even though his velocity wasn't where it was in 2013. Farris picked up 100 Ks, which was good for second-best in the Pac-12 (UCLA's James Kaprielian had 108). Without the velocity, command of his off-speed pitch was enormous and much-improved. In a career-high 113 2/3 innings, Farris walked just 19 batters all season (8th in Pac-12).
The 6-2, 215 pound righty used to sit in the high-80s and low-90s with his fastball. This year, he was more in the mid-80s range.
The drop in velocity is certainly concerning, but the command of his off-speed stuff is a huge upside for his future. Farris won't blow people away with his fastball, but as long as he can continue to get the movement, he'll be just fine.