Name: Andrew Faulkner
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: September 12, 1992
Acquired: 2011 Amateur Draft, 14th round
Entering the 2011 MLB Draft, left-hander Andrew Faulkner appeared to be a tough sign on the surface. The South Aiken High School (S.C.) product had signed a letter of intent to play for a powerhouse program in his home state––at the University of South Carolina, which has now won back-to-back national championships.
But Faulkner was ready to pass on the college opportunity and begin his professional career. The Texas Rangers––more specifically, area scout Chris Kemp––selected the hurler in the 14th round with the intention of signing him.
Following the draft's second day, Faulkner told the Aiken Standard newspaper that he'd like to sign and wanted "slotted money for the eighth round and up."
As it turned out, Faulkner got exactly that. The 6-foot-3 lefty inked his first professional contract a few weeks after the draft for a reported $125,000 bonus––slot money for approximately the sixth-to-eighth rounds.
Faulkner reported to the Rangers' minor league complex in Surprise, Ariz., upon signing, where he spent the remainder of the summer with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers of the Arizona League.
It didn't take long for Faulkner to establish himself as a prospect worth watching. From his first professional outing, his velocity jumped up from where it had been in high school (more on that in the following scouting report). The results were good, as well. He posted a 2.16 earned-run average in 12 appearances (seven starts) with the club. Logging 25 innings, he yielded 17 hits while striking out 27 and walking only four.
Following the regular season, Faulkner attended the Rangers' fall instructional league before beginning his first offseason and preparing for a full slate in 2012.
Faulkner's MLB.com Draft '11 scouting video, which appears to be from the 2010 Area Code Games in California, can be found at this link.
Also See: Rangers All-Prospect Teams (November 8, 2011)
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball: The 19-year-old has consistently grown and added velocity over the last two years. He's currently listed at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds––tall and with some more room to fill out. Faulkner's fastball sat in the mid-80s as a junior in high school, into the upper-80s during his senior season, and sat around 89-92 mph last summer after he signed with the Rangers. He bumped 93 mph with some regularity during instructs last fall.
Faulkner uses his tall frame to his advantage by getting a good angle on his fastball, which has some late life that includes a little armside run. With a loose, fast arm and a body that's still somewhat lean, he could add another tick of velocity as he matures physically. He also shows impressive fastball command for his age with some pitchability. He was aggressive in attacking the lower portion of the strike zone with his fastball last summer, walking only four in 25 Arizona League innings.
Other Pitches: While Faulkner's fastball looks like a definite future plus pitch, his secondary stuff is less developed. His changeup may be a little further along than the breaking ball. After using a splitter as his changeup in high school, the Rangers had him try more of a straight change after he signed. He showed a feel for the pitch, throwing it at 82-84 mph with deception on his good days. At other times, it was too straight and firm around 85-87 mph.
The club is also working to give him more of a true breaking ball. Like the change, his breaking pitch is a work in progress. Faulkner currently features a 78-82 mph slurve that's best described as a curveball that has occasional slider tilt.
Projection: The South Carolina high school product has the body and potential repertoire to stick as a starting pitcher, but there's plenty of development remaining before that question can be answered. Although he'll need to refine the secondary stuff quite a bit, Faulkner appears to have the raw arm––including the fastball and feel for pitching––necessary to develop into a prospect worth watching.
After entering the organization with a slightly herky-jerky delivery, the coaches at instructs helped him smooth out his mechanics a bit. He has the tools for success, but the development of his breaking ball and changeup will be a big factor in determining his ultimate role and ceiling.
2012 Outlook: There isn't one obvious destination for Faulkner at this point. The club could have him focus on his secondary stuff at extended spring training before shipping him out to short-season Spokane in June. However, he might have the overall feel to handle Single-A Hickory in sort of a long relief or tandem role if the Rangers choose to push him a bit.
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