Drafted in the 10th round in 2011 by Tampa Bay, Faria has made good on his opportunity in pro ball to this point, showing ingredients that may make him an asset at the major league level in the not-too-distant future. Faria is every bit of his 6’4” listing and he utilizes his lanky frame to create good angle, and creates some deception in the delivery thanks to his short arm action in back. He relies on his deception and his circle-change, a combination has been effective to this point.
The circle-change is his best pitch, with future plus potential. He gets some late dive and shows some feel, locating it both for strikes and down, out of the zone for put-away. While he does have below-average command, his deception affords him some margin for error. He sits 89-to-90 mph with the fastball, which is also below-average velocity wise, but with how the arm works, it looks more like 92 mph to the hitter. He is consistently around the zone which is generally a good thing, but is inconsistent to spots–which obviously works against him when he misses over the plate.
He has an average of 9.2 Ks/9 thus far in his career, and going into 2016 was coming off of his best year as a pro where he had 11.5 Ks/9 across 75.1 IP after being promoted to Double-A Montgomery halfway through the 2015 season. He only gave up 103 hits through 149 .2 IP between High A and Double-A in 2015, and this year he maintained that success at Double-A, giving up 63 hits through 83.1 IP before being promoted to Durham, and giving up 7.8 hits/9 through 32.1 IP. 32 innings is a small sample size and it’s not a surprise to see a player struggle for a bit at a new level.
However, what is mildly concerning is the 4.2 BB/9 that he has shown at Triple-A, and while it is only a small increase from his Double-A rate of 3.9 BB/9, I think it is an indication that he is slightly more wary of making mistakes in the zone vs. better lineups and perhaps nibbling more than he has prior. He also has a pronounced fly ball rate at 0.81 in 2016 (same as career rate), something I believe is a product of him not extending consistently in his delivery.
I can see Faria making some improvements, and possibly getting to fringe-average fastball command, however I think it is a lot to ask for him to go through a lineup three times relying mostly on deception and a plus circle changeup, while living up in the zone with the fastball. A good deal of his deception comes from him staying closed with the front side, something which, in turn, makes it more difficult for him to extend and locate to the glove side. High walk rates for a fly ball pitcher usually translates into bloated HR numbers at the next level, so being able to roll him out situationally would help curtail that.
His strengths are things that I believe will play far better in shorter stints at the next level, and when coupled with a plus secondary pitch could end up making him a valuable mid- to possibly late-inning arm. With the Rays toiling at the bottom of the A.L. East Division in 2016 and Faria being on the 40-man roster, I would expect him to get a serious look when rosters expand in September.