Growing up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, James Farris was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. So was his mom, dad, brother, uncle, pet dog and, well, you get the idea.
Arkansas is Cardinal territory, and the Farris family had no problem obliging.
Now they’re going to have to go shopping for some new gear.
Farris was selected in the ninth round of Friday’s MLB draft by — who else — the Chicago Cubs. The former UA right-handed pitcher was the 259th overall selection.
“We were all Cardinals fans,” Farris said. “I don’t think I’ve ever bought any Cubbies gear in my life. I’m going to go have to get a hat here in the next day or two.”
The senior went 6-6 with a 3.40 ERA this past season as Arizona’s Friday night starter. He struck out 100 batters, good for second in the Pac-12, in 113º innings.
Farris, who moved to Gilbert after his sophomore year and played his final two years at Gilbert Highland High School, went 18-14 with a 3.93 ERA in his UA career. He made 47 starts over four seasons and appeared in 50 games.
The righty was the only UA player selected during the second day of the draft. Rounds one and two were Thursday and rounds 11-40 are set for today.
Arizona should have a handful of players taken on today’s final day, including second baseman Trent Gilbert, catcher Riley Moore and pitchers Tyler Parmenter, Mat Troupe and Cody Hamlin.
But Friday was all about Farris.
The pitcher was taken in the 15th round of last year’s draft by the Houston Astros with the 437th overall pick. He decided to return for his senior season to try to get back to the NCAA tournament one last time and continue to improve as a pitcher.
Farris missed out on his first goal, but did move up in the draft six rounds, which came as a surprise to him.
“I’m still really disappointed in how our team played all year,” said Farris of the 22-33 Wildcats. “I really put that all on me. So because of that, I didn’t expect to go this high. I actually thought I could go down from last year. But I do think I improved a lot from my sophomore and junior years, and I’m just really fortunate to be in the position I’m in.”
Farris is the first UA player to be taken by the Cubs since infielder Colt Sedbrook was drafted in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft.
Farris spent Friday at his Gilbert home with his mom and dad. He said he wasn’t tracking the draft on the computer because “if I did, I’d get too frustrated and angry and it would start making everyone uncomfortable.”
So instead, Farris was watching TV, when his parents started yelling in another room after seeing he had been selected by the Cubs.
“I think it was just as exciting as last year, and maybe even more,” Farris said. “I’ve never really taken myself too serious as a baseball player, but now I get to be a professional and go to the next level. The same way (coach Andy Lopez) gave me an opportunity at Arizona, the Cubs have given me an opportunity. Now and I want to make them proud.”
Farris said he had heard from the Cubs for the first time on Thursday and they expressed interest in him. The pitcher also said the Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, Astros, Phillies and Mariners were all in contact with him before the draft, which resumes today at 10 a.m.