While international free agency wrapped up a week ago (the new signing period begins January 15th), teams are still welcome to pick up minor league free agents and Cincinnati did just that this week when the Reds signed catcher John Michael Faile. The 23-year-old went undrafted this past summer and spent his year with the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League. What a weird sentence to type – thanks for nothing, Rob Manfred.

Billings is now an independent, but “partner league” for Major League Baseball. And to say that John Michael Faile crushed the ball there would be an understatement. But it probably shouldn’t be overly surprising, either. In five seasons with NCAA Division II North Greenville in the Conference Carolinas the catcher hit .393/.483/.734 with 54 doubles, a triple, and 81 home runs while walking nearly as often as he struck out. His 81 home runs are the most ever by a Division II player. So are his 337 runs batted in. You can see his college stats and Billings stats here.

Over the summer with the Mustangs he just kept on going, hitting .353/.414/.761 with 19 doubles and 21 home runs. He also drove in 70 runs in 54 games. The Pioneer League is considered to be quite hitter friendly thanks to the size of many of the ballparks throughout the league. Faile finished 8th in the league with his 21 homers, but he played in just 54 games. Everyone else in the top 18 played at least 77 games. His 1.175 OPS was the best in the league among players with at least 200 plate appearances.

 

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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30 Responses

  1. Rick in Va

    So, with that kind of performance in college, why wasn’t he drafted? Is there some weakness we don’t know about yet or is the competition he has faced particularly weak? Otherwise it seems he would have caught on somewhere in the regular minor leagues last summer.

    • Doug Gray

      I haven’t got even the slightest clue, but something seems weird that a guy with those numbers didn’t get drafted any of the three times he was eligible.

      The competition level isn’t great, but that hasn’t stopped eleventy-billion other guys from being drafted.

      • Champ Summers

        is he not much of a catcher? I can’t fathom how a guy with those stats not getting one team to bite with a late rounder that is usually thrown away anyway. He turned 23 by the draft so maybe age played a role. Seems odd.

    • Oldtimer

      T J Friedl had good numbers in college but wasn’t drafted, either.

      The Reds passed on drafting Mike Schmidt (yeah, THAT Mike Schmidt) from Dayton Fairview HS in 1967 because he wasn’t fast enough to play SS (the position he played in HS). He was drafted by the Phillies.

      • Mauired

        Wow that’s crazy. Where would Pete have played during the Big Red Machine days if Reds had Schmidt. And how many more banners would be flying at Great American right now?

      • Oldtimer

        #14 could play 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, or RF. He was an All-Star at each position.

      • Melvin

        “#14 could play 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, or RF. He was an All-Star at each position.”

        A STARTING All-Star. ;)

    • BK

      I don’t know how many picks come from Division II where teams just have 9 scholarships to split among their roster.

  2. James K

    Nice to hear about someone from Billings. Darn shame that league got dissed.

    • Andrew

      I’m from Burlington, Vermont, home of the Vermont Lake Monsters, formally of the Penn League. Barry Larkin came through here during the short period of time the Lake Monsters were a Refs affiliate. I can’t speak to what has happened in Billings since the transition, but here in Burlington the shift from rookie ball to The Futures League has been outstanding. We don’t get to see any rehabbing MLB players or potential future stars like Barry Larkin (yet I guess), but the fan experience has improved exponentially.

      My point is, in some of the communities that *lost* their team, if they were lucky enough to get picked up by some of the new spin offs, it’s actually been ok if not like here, a heck of a lot better product

      Side note – trivia fact. Centennial Field in Burlington is the oldest, continuously operating professional stadium in the country.

      • Doug Gray

        There’s still a chance that a place like Vermont you will get to see future big leaguers. The odds that someone ever becomes a big leaguer again who is playing for the Billings Mustangs are infinitely small. That really sucks.

      • DaveCT

        Best place to see future ML players is the Cape Cod Summer league. Phenomenal. Everyone who can should go at least once.

  3. RedsGettingBetter

    What do we expect from Faile as a player? Could he be likely projected as average big leaguer? I suppose he isn’t be ranked as a top prospect unless he crushes the ball in 2024 as he did before

    • Stock

      If he projected as an average big leaguer he would have been drafted by the end of the 4th or 5th round.

    • Stock

      Only 10% – 15% of players drafted in the 2nd round have noteworthy career’s in the majors. Probably less than 3% of those drafted in the second round become stars.

  4. MK

    Sounds like a quality pick-up. If you remember James Free was in the same situation and he has worked his way slowly up the system. Don’t think he can be much worse defensively than Devin Mesoraco was when a Dragon. Devin muffed at least 2 pitches every inning doing his best backboard imitation.

    • DaveCT

      The only downside I can find is a torn meniscus and surgery in 22.

  5. Colorado Red

    Seems like a zero risk signing.
    No draft pick, probably not lot of money.
    Most likely nothing, but sometimes you catch a little lighting in a bottle.

  6. Dr. C. Sepko

    I was a professor at North Greenville University during the first years that JMF played for the Crusaders. After I retired, I continued watching him play. I got to know his grandfather and his parents over the years. Great family, and he is a great catcher, clutch hitter, and played several times in the D2 World Series–winning one of those titles. I have witnessed him hit more walk-offs than any other player as he never gives up. When he was injured, had surgery, his efforts to rehab were intentional. First time, up to hit again in a warm up, he put the ball out of the park. Give “Johnny Rocket” a chance to show you what he can do. And, he’s had a great coach–Landon Powell–All-American catcher at USC and then with the A’s where he caught a no-hitter.

    • MK

      Thanks Doctor. It is always nice to get an eye-witness report, though you might be a little biased. I don’t undrstand the intentional rehab comment. Can you really rehab unintentionally?

  7. Joseph jones

    This may be off the subject? But how can anyone beat the dodgers?

    • Doug Gray

      The same way teams have been doing it for the last decade outside of one season: Being better in a short series, or cheating.

      • Mauired

        Or just build a balanced roster and make every spot on the 40 man count. No black holes or waste which is very common with these recycled GMs and Presidents with these Ivy League degrees but do the same nonsense every year. Also helps to not have a little league manager like NepoBell

    • Jason Franklin

      They basically only have two solid starters in Glasnow and the Yamamoto. Yet, those two are also iffy. Glasnow could just as easily breakdown again for the 5th time. Or Yamamoto may not pitch up to expectations in the majors. They have a few other pitchers who are young but none of them future stars at this point. The Dodgers will be the most overrated team in baseball.