James Farris Needs To Keep Working Ahead Of Batters

The Rockies made a small deal in February that could pay dividends. They traded righthander Eddie Butler, who very much needed a new start, to the Cubs for 25-year-old reliever James Farris.

A likely 40-man roster addition, Farris recorded a 1.45 ERA with nine saves in 17 appearances at Double-A Hartford. He moved up to Triple-A Albuquerque and logged a 4.62 ERA with two saves in 31 games. Overall the righthander posted ratios of 10.8 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings. He allowed nine home runs in 57.2 innings.

“The next step for him at Triple-A is consistently getting ahead so he can get to his secondary pitches,” farm director Zach Wilson said. “I’ve seen quality plus fastball command with no fear at the Double-A level. So once he’s able to do that consistently against better hitters, older hitters, more selective hitters, I think he’s got a chance to take off in Triple-A and at the big league level, too.”

Farris, a 2014 ninth-round pick of the Cubs from Arizona, throws a 91-95 mph four-seam fastball that sits 92 mph. He has good arm action on a changeup, which has late action and is his best secondary pitch. Farris also throws a slider, which has more downward, curveball-like action against lefthanded hitters, who hit .172 against him at Albuquerque compared to .295 by righties.

“When he works down and he commands both sides of the plate with his fastball, his secondary stuff really plays up, particularly his changeup,” Wilson said. “He can live right at the knees with all his pitches. So when he can command his fastball side-to-side, everything’s better.”

Through his first six Arizona Fall League appearances, Farris had been scored upon in three of them while running up a 12.00 ERA.

“He’s been getting behind earlier in counts and, therefore, he’s not able to get to his secondary (stuff). Therefore, he’s getting hit around a little bit,” Wilson said. “But this is a good learning experience for him to continue to understand the minor adjustments he’s going to have to make if he really wants to have an effect in the sixth or seventh inning of a major league game.”


• After missing about seven weeks with an oblique strain and pitching poorly at Albuquerque, 23-year-old righthander Zach Jemiola went 2-0, 2.12 through four starts in the AFL with five walks and 16 strikeouts in 17 innings. At Albuquerque, he went 5-5, 6.83 with 38 walks and 40 strikeouts in 81.2 innings.

• Third baseman Josh Fuentes hit .264/.304/.402 with two homers through 22 games in the Mexican Pacific League after hitting .307/.352/.517 at Hartford with 15 homers in 122 games. Fuentes, 24, is a cousin of Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.

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