Texas Commit Trey Faltine Sees The Value In Being A Two-Way Player
TEMPE, Ariz. — Even though Sanson “Trey” Faltine III is a shortstop first and a pitcher second, nothing was going to stop the Houston, Texas native from getting tremendous value from the third annual Dream Series event over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
More than 70 prep pitchers and catchers from across the United States converged on Tempe, Ariz., for four long days of instruction and mentoring by a staff of former Major League players and coaches. The attendees participated in bullpen sessions, fielding drills and batting practice during the daily workouts at Tempe Diablo Stadium—the spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels—while also attending evening presentations regarding baseball career opportunities.
“Over the past three years we’ve continued to have more talent here as more kids are learning about the program,” said Del Matthews, Senior Director of Baseball Development for Major League Baseball. “We’ve been extremely pleased with the progress, and we continue to add to the program with the different seminars and guest speakers . . . The kids really take to it.”
Faltine, a 2019 University of Texas commit, expects to primarily be an infielder as his baseball career advances. But both the on-field and off-field programs during the Dream Series event provided lessons that will stick with him and carry over into his baseball career regardless of where on the field he’s playing.
“The daily (pitching fundamental practices) that we go through,” Faltine said, “some of them may be boring, but it’ll lose you a game or win you a game. It’s something that’s very important and they stress it a lot.”
If he was only a pitcher, Faltine would still be a pretty good prospect. At 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, he’s got a solid, projectable body with a loose arm, plenty of athleticism, good rhythm and the potential for a four-pitch repertoire.
Faltine had the perfect role model at the Tempe event in former big-league pitcher Sergio Santos, who was one of the coaches working with the Texas youngster’s pitching group.
Santos, a one-time first-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a shortstop, converted to the mound midway through his pro career. He pitched parts of six years in the major leagues, including the 2011 season when he saved 30 games for the White Sox, before injuries ended his career. Santos now works with young players at MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif.
“I feel I have a unique perspective,” Santos said. “Most of these kids are really good athletes and they play different sports . . . I can really correlate to them because I felt I became a pitcher as an athlete. I want them not to lose their athleticism in becoming a pitcher, but to use that as an advantage.”
Santos’s advice to Faltine is to not to put pitching too far on the back burner.
“He said shortstop is a great thing,” Faltine said. “But there’s always that backup plan of being able to pitch. Never lose that. He said that could be valuable and extend your career a couple more years, so keep that in your back pocket.”
When asked whether Santos taught him how to throw a fastball at 98 or 99 mph like he regularly did in his pitching career, Faltine just laughed and said, “I wish he could.”
Santos was more optimistic about the possibility, remarking, “That’ll come . . . He can at some point from continually throwing, continually working at his craft. I’m sure it will happen.”
Christian Little was another of the promising young pitchers in the same workout group as Faltine. Still only in his sophomore year at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound righthander has already committed to Vanderbilt. With a tall, athletic frame and a loose arm, Little already has a solid foundation with many years of development ahead.
Just like Faltine, Little noted that there were plenty of opportunities to learn more about the art of pitching during the practice sessions.
“I’m learning how to field PFPs the right way,” Little said. “How to pick off, how to maintain your mental during the game, situational pitching . . . everything that a pitcher needs to know.”
Even more important for Little was the reinforcement of what this event is all about from a higher level than just baseball. The Dream Series staff makes sure the message gets across during the event by piping some of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches through the PA speakers during the on-field workouts.
“I’m learning about my heritage related to the game,” Little said, “and how Martin Luther King’s dream can relate to baseball and really to all sports.”
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In addition to Santos, who was participating in the Dream Series for the first time, other coaches included Jerry Manuel, Ken Hill, Tom "Flash" Gordon, Charles Johnson, Darren Oliver, Lenny Webster, Junior Spivey, LaTroy Hawkins, Gerald Laird, Marvin Freeman, Darrell Miller and Bruce Maxwell. That’s certainly an impressive array of baseball expertise available to the players attending the event.
“All of them want to get involved,” Matthews said about the coaches. "All of them are extremely positive and enthusiastic with just being around the kids and giving them some inspiration. We’ve got no shortage of people who want to be involved, and it helps that we have several programs throughout the summer and into the fall. We keep the same group of guys together. We’ve got a cohesive message that we continue to deliver to the kids.”