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Former Gahr High Standout Faria Comes Home to Pursue Childhood Dream

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter
December 23, 2020

Christmas began a month early for ex-Gahr High pitcher Jake Faria as he received one of the best gifts he has ever received. Faria was signed by the Los Angeles Angels to a minor league contract on Nov. 23 and was assigned to the Salt Lake Bees, the AAA farm club of the Angels.

Faria, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 10th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft, grew up an Angels fan and lived just a hop, skip and a jump from Angels Stadium. Faria, his father David, and his friend would split season tickets to the Angels for a few years. Originally there were three tickets, but that was reduced to two because ticket prices were getting too high, according to the newest Angel.

“It was something that maybe my dad and my brother could all do together,” Faria said. “Going to Angels’ games and stuff was the one big thing the three of us did together. Me and my brother, when we were kids, we walked probably every accessible inch of that stadium. We knew it like the back of our hands. That’s how much time we spent there. That was our place growing up.”

 

Former Gahr High pitcher Jake Faria, at a very young age, sits at a then-Anaheim Angels game. Now, the two-time Los Cerritos Community News Pitcher of the Year gets to play for the Los Angeles Angels as the club signed him to a minor league contract last month.

 

 

Faria, who made his MLB debut with the Rays in 2017 and was with them until 2019, recalled that the first phone call the Angels made was to Faria’s agent as he did not speak to his new team directly in the beginning. He said the Angels came out “guns blazing”; that it wasn’t the usual, ‘hey, we’re interested and we’ll call you later’. Instead, the Angels said they were interested in him and gave Faria an offer. They also told Faria that they understood it was early in the offseason and told him to take the appropriate amount of time to get back to them.

“It was probably about two or three weeks, just because they were waiting for other offers to come in and weighing the options,” Faria said of getting back to the Angels. “The biggest thing that me and my wife and my agent had talked about was…every team needs pitching. But being a team that we knew had been looking for pitching, we knew that there was a possibility that they would call. The biggest thing for us was we wanted to be objective and we did not want to get too emotionally attached to any one team. Being that the Angels are my hometown team and the team that I grew up watching and rooting for, that was a little tougher to do than other teams. But when it really came down to it, it was the best move from a baseball standpoint.”

Faria said that as a high school baseball athlete in California, scouts come out to see prospecting pitchers throw. However, when Faria was at Gahr, he said the Angels were one of the few teams that he never talked to. He added that he now that he has that opportunity, playing for the Angels is huge and he is extremely excited about the immediate future.

 

Faria and his wife, Jessica, shown here in 2011. The two got married prior to the 2019 season, which would be the last season Jake played as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. He would be dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers at the trade deadline and pitched in nine games for the Brewers. Faria spent the 2020 season at Milwaukee’s alternate site before given his release.

 

As a kid before he got into pitching, Faria played in right field and remembers watching former Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero. He said that when the Angels acquired him from the Montreal Expos, just watching him play was “electric” and he wanted to follow everything Guerrero did, since he was a right fielder as well. Once Faria got older and started focusing on being a pitcher, he became a big fan of Jered Weaver as soon as he got called up by the Angels and would begin to model Weaver’s pitching moves.

“This phenom gets called up and he’s dominating the big leagues,” Faria remembered. “I was like, who else am I going to watch? He’s on my team and he’s the best pitcher in the big leagues right now. That’s kind of how I got attracted to those two guys. They were the best guys of what they did.”

When Faria started against the Angels on July 14, 2017, one of his 12 starts for the Rays that season, it was the first time in his career he had played west of the Mississippi River. For that game, in which he pitched into the seventh inning, he allowed five hits, one run and struck out four, approximately 200 friends and family came to the game, and because he was a rookie that season, playing in Angel Stadium was special. The Rays would edge the Angels 2-1 in 10 innings. However, this time around, it’s special in another way.

“It might be in a different category just because that was my rookie year and there were a lot of things that made that special,” Faria said. “Potentially pitching in the big leagues with the Angels now…I don’t know if you can put them on the same level just because, like I said, it was my rookie year and first time playing back at home. [This time], it’s just special in its own right; in its own category.”

Faria was traded from Tampa Bay to the Milwaukee Brewers on July 31, 2019 and recalls the middle of that week. His birthday is July 30, and the Rays had an off day in Boston. Jake and his wife, Jessica, a former Gahr softball player, celebrated the night at a steakhouse in Boston. The next morning, they woke up earlier than normal and had breakfast in their hotel room instead of going out and about in the event he got a call from Tampa Bay personnel.

“Having been around for so long and seeing the events that lead up to a guy being traded or whatever it might be, I had a sense that there was a strong possibility that it was going to happen,” Faria said. “I think it was about 10:30 or 11:00 in the morning I got a call from the Rays GM saying that I had been traded to Milwaukee. They were sad to see me go, but it’s just part of the business, and I completely understood.”

Faria continued to say that he waited to hear from Milwaukee GM David Stearns, who called Faria and welcomed him to the team. Stearns also told Faria that the Brewers may not be done making moves and because of that, Faria didn’t immediately know what his role would be.

“To me, it was both a slow day and things just happening randomly that the day kind of flew by,” Faria said. “Because we’re sitting [in the hotel room] waiting for phone calls, it just kind of made the day drag on a little bit.”

Later that day, Faria went to Fenway Park to pick up his bags which were already packed by club personnel and he could have flown out that night, but the Brewers had not finished making all the moves it needed to make. So, Faria left Boston the next morning and flew to San Antonio, home of Milwaukee’s AAA farm club as the Brewers had also traded for pitcher Drew Pomeranz and put him on the big league roster, thus sending Faria to the minors.

Jessica Faria has been Jake’s biggest supporter for many reasons. Because she played softball at Gahr, she said she can relate to him in many ways. She added that the worst part about every July 31 is the waiting game of not knowing where Jake would be playing later that night or the next day.

“It’s hectic, it’s crazy, it’s unpredictable,” Jessica Faria said. “I love being organized, I love being a planner and baseball just had me throw all that out the window. But the best part about it is you get to see the person you love live their dream and I think that there’s nothing better. It does come with its trials and tribulations, but at the end of the day, they’re all worth it.

“I actually wasn’t going to go to Boston,” she later added. “But I was like, well, it’s his birthday and if he does get traded…it’s tough because he was with the Rays for nine years. That’s a big move and a big chapter to close and I didn’t want him to be alone.”

“The great thing about her is she was an athlete herself and she played softball,” Jake Faria said. “So, I have somebody who understands the game. She was raised an Angels fan too, so she loves baseball. When I got traded, she was right there next to me. And as soon as I flew out [to San Antonio], she flew to Durham [North Carolina] because my car was there.”

He went on to say that after Jessica and her mom packed up everything in Durham, which is where Tampa Bay’s AAA team plays, they drove to Tampa to pack up his stuff there. He added that there was so much that he wouldn’t be able to do if Jessica weren’t around.

Five days after he was traded, Faria was called up by the Brewers and the next day, made his Milwaukee debut on Aug. 6, 2019 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Faria pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing two hits and struck out one. The Brewers won 4-3 and was the second win for the Brewers in what would eventually be a five-game winning streak.

“I was just nervous because I’ve been around for a good amount of time and you’re afraid that you’re not going to know anybody or it might be awkward because you’re the new guy on the team,” Faria said. “Luckily, I did know [Milwaukee closer] Josh Hader; we had become friends a few years earlier. The whole team was so welcoming. I tried to walk around the clubhouse to make sure I introduced myself to everybody.”

Faria said he wasn’t expecting to pitch in the game just because it was a close contest, and the Brewers were hoping to keep their momentum going in what would eventually be that five-game winning streak. Plus, Milwaukee was in a playoff race at the time.

“I don’t want to say it was a confidence boost, but it was really cool to know that they had that faith in me when being in the bullpen wasn’t really anything that I had done before,” Faria said. “Historically, I’m a starter and having been in the bullpen for a short time and then trusting me in that kind of role was really cool.”

Faria would pitch in eight other games, getting his only loss as a Brewer in a Sept. 29 game at the Colorado Rockies in which he pitched in the 13th inning, walking one and yielding a hit in a 4-3 loss. Milwaukee would go 4-5 in the nine games he pitched for the blue crew.

Even though Faria had started 26 games with the Rays but came out of the bullpen in the nine games with Milwaukee, he said it was tough that he did not pitch once in the abbreviated 60-game season from this past July to August. Faria spent the entire season on Milwaukee’s alternate site in Appleton, Wisconsin and admitted at first, it was tough to deal with and tough that he was not considered a part of Milwaukee’s bullpen. Before he was traded to the Brewers, Faria had sported a 2.70 earned run average in seven games with Tampa Bay last season.

While at the alternate site, Faria was starting games, getting stretched out and throwing four to five innings a game. He said that time there got him ready for the offseason and the 2021 season. He also said that he understood the transaction side of it as he wasn’t on the Milwaukee roster, so the Brewers had to clear a spot.

“It was interesting to say the least,” Jake Faria said of the 2020 season. “Summer camp, we had so many guys; you try to treat it like a normal spring training. I want to say they brought out 45-50 guys for summer camp, and they have to split up everything. You can’t have too many guys in the stadium, you can’t have too many guys in the clubhouse. It was an adjustment.”

When the Brewers reported to their spring training site in Maryvale, AZ in February, Faria said he was extremely confident and was throwing the ball well up until the camps were shut down in the middle of March. Out of the four or five spring training games he had pitched in, Faria said he only had one bad outing. Milwaukee would grant Faria his release four days left in the regular season.

“I think I put myself in a pretty good position to make the club, for one, and two, be an actual useful part of a big league bullpen,” he said. “But none of us knew what was going to happen and it kind of hit everybody like a sack of bricks. You have that momentum where…I was feeling great and everything was flowing well. Then it gets shut down and your momentum is kind of [like] you run into a brick wall and then you kind of have to rev back up again. It was tough to see a pretty good spring wasted pretty much.”

Since the end of the 2018, the Faria’s, who first began dating two months before they graduated from Gahr, have resided in Las Vegas, which is also home to the AAA farm club of the Oakland A’s. For the past several months, Faria has been working out at the facility of the Las Vegas Aviators on the west side of town five days a week. He said the Angels haven’t told him yet what’s going on as far as spring training, which is due to begin in the middle of February, because there are still uncertainties with the pandemic.

 

The newest member of the Los Angeles Angels is ex-Gahr High right-handed pitcher Jake Faria, who is a 2011 graduate of Gahr High. Faria, who grew up an Angels fan, signed a minor league contract last month and was sent to the Salt Lake Bees, the AAA affiliate of the Angels. Faria, who played 42 games for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2017-2019, was recently with the Milwaukee Brewers.

 

Faria, who wore #34 with Tampa Bay and #36 with Milwaukee, also doesn’t know what number he will wear with the Angels because he’s waiting to see what other moves the team will make.

“There’s probably going to be guys who are higher up on the totem pole that when they get to [spring training], they can pick their number and I’ll have to pick from the rest,” Faria said. “We’ll get there when we cross that bridge. But right now, I’m just excited of the opportunity to wear that uniform and honestly, whatever number I get in the beginning, I’ll be okay with.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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