Catching Up with Stephen Faris (PART I)

It wasn't that long ago Stephen Faris wrapped up a rock-solid three year run at Clemson by going 9-3 with a 2.36 ERA and 86 strikeouts for the Tigers in 2006.

Faris had every intention of coming back to Clemson for his senior year until the San Diego Padres took him in the 12th round of the June 2006 amateur draft. Since then, he has climbed his way up the ladder in the Padres' system.

After starting out at Short Season Single-A Eugene in 2006, he pitched at both Low and High Single-A last year. This season, Faris finds himself with Double-A San Antonio and thanks to some offseason work on his breaking ball, is off to a solid start.

CUTigers.com recently caught up with him during a road trip and here's what he had to say:

How do you look back on your three years at Clemson?
Faris: It was a great experience for me. I got the opportunity to play under Jack Leggett and Coach (Kevin) O'Sullivan, two great coaches. The program speaks for itself and it was a great three years with the things that I learned on and off the field. As much as you think you know the game coming out of high school and as much as you think you know about being a dominant player, you come there and they teach you that you don't know anything. They taught me the real way and the right way to play the game. Clemson is a great place and it taught me a lot. I carry a lot of things that I learned then into my career now and plan on continuing to do that in the future. It was a great experience for me. I know a lot people don't get that opportunity, so I feel very fortunate that I did because it was a good three years.

Former Clemson right-hander Stephen Faris is 2-1 in Double-A San Antonio with a 5.63 ERA in 24 innings.
How much of an impact did Coach Leggett have on you both on the diamond as well as away from it?
Faris: He takes pride in pretty much everything he does. When it comes to being a student-athlete, he believes in being as prepared on the field as you are in the classroom. I don't think I have heard from any guys who went to other big, major colleges who had a coach like that who takes as much pride in keeping his guys in the line and making sure that they get their education as well as getting their work done on the field. There aren't many guys like him. He helped me out and it's an advantage of have someone like him behind you.

Do you feel that pitching in the ACC gave you a leg up over other pitchers who didn't face such great competition?
Faris: I think having the experience is huge. Being able to throw against guys with that level of talent helped prepare me for pro ball but it's nice to not hear metal bats again. Using the wood bats is nice now compared to that and that definitely helps me out. The program speaks for itself and I still keep up with it now. Just being able to play against those guys has helped me and will help me throughout my career. Hopefully, that's what will help me get to the big leagues.

Talk about being drafted in the 12th round by San Diego in 2006- that had to be a thrill.
Faris: I think the whole draft thing is kind of up in the air and a crapshoot because you never know where you're going to get drafted. You hear that you're going between the sixth and eighth rounds but there are a lot of things that get into it. It was nice (to get drafted) and I'm glad the Padres drafted me because I'm the style of pitcher for them. I'm not an overpowering guy. I'm more of a guy who can locate his pitches, throw all my pitches for strikes and likes to keep ahead of hitters to keep them off balance. I was glad to get the opportunity and thought it was something that I had to take. I thought about coming back to school but didn't think I could turn down that opportunity. But I took that chance and so far, it's worked out well. I'm really happy where I'm at right now.

What was the biggest adjustment for you once you signed?
Faris: The biggest thing that really stands out is how much better the hitters are. When you play in the ACC and face that competition, you play against a lot of guys who are just good hitters. But the talent that you see at the next level is so much better. Guys here in Double A are a lot more consistent and you know exactly what you're getting every day. In college, you might face two or three really good players on a team but in the pros, everybody is good. They've all played at the same level you're at or above that. The competition is a lot better. In Double A and up, everybody could pretty much play in the big leagues. That makes a big difference. The hitters are so much better here. In Double A, the hitters are all good from one through nine. I remember seeing guys who I faced in college and were hitting third or fourth then and they're hitting eighth or ninth here. That really stands out, the competition and type of players that are here now. They're at a higher level.

Stay tuned Sunday for Part II of our Q&A with former Clemson pitcher Stephen Faris.

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