In the 9th round of the 2015 Draft the Texas Rangers selected Peter Fairbanks, a 6-6 right handed pitcher from the University of Missouri, with the 258th pick. Fairbanks was the Tigers’ third starter the season and finished with a record of 4-5 and an ERA of 3.40. While the record and ERA do not look great, there is much more to Fairbanks than his line. He was the Sunday starter for every Southeastern Conference series this season making 15 starts for Mizzou. At the beginning of the season he was the Friday night starter, but the emergence of fellow Junior Reggie McClain pushed Fairbanks to a spot where he got better matchups.
A junior this year, Fairbanks was the starter for wins over Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and Vanderbilt. He picked up a win over the Omaha bound Gators by tossing 5 innings of one run baseball. His 84 strikeouts this season were good enough to earn a top 15 spot in the SEC. He gave up just 33 runs this season in 15 starts, which was 12th best in the conference. His performance in the SEC tournament gave the college world series bound and conference Commodores one of their toughest tests in the tournament. The defending national champions were unable to get much off of Fairbanks on short rest, but his bullpen was unable to hold off Vanderbilt as Mizzou fell in extra innings.
Fairbanks throws a solid fastball and a good changeup. His changeup is probably why the Rangers bit on him in the draft. With the emergence of Shawn Tolleson and Keone Kela, two pitchers with good changeups, the Rangers know they can get Fairbanks to use that pitch effectively. He also boasts an excellent pickoff move and led the SEC with 4 pickoffs. The Columbia Daily Tribune’s Matt Nestor wrote about Fairbanks and a teammate’s selections.
As a University of Missouri student, I saw Fairbanks pitch twice this season. His performance against Florida was one of the better pitching performances of the season that I saw from the starting staff. I also saw him pitch against the Texas A&M Aggies, who knocked him out of the game early by capitalizing on 6 hits in three innings. To be fair, the Aggies were just handed their first home loss of the season and were expected to respond well. Even in that game, Fairbanks did not pitch poorly, A&M hitters just made him pay for the two mistake pitches he made.
Fairbanks was the forgotten pitcher in the rotation this season for Mizzou, but he put together a fine campaign. On campus there was more focus on McClain and Freshman Tanner Houck, but Fairbanks put together a fine campaign for the Tigers this season. Realistically, Fairbanks will take some time in the minor leagues before making it up to Arlington. The Rangers worked him out before the draft and liked what they saw meaning he could be a candidate to have an impact soon. However, I think it will be two years before we see Fairbanks in a Rangers uniform at Globe Life Park.