James was promoted to Triple-A Fresno over the weekend and will make his Pacific Coast League debut Thursday in Las Vegas, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic Houston reports.
As a 24-year-old in the Texas League last season, James posted an underwhelming 4.38 ERA and 72:32 K:BB in 76 innings while often struggling to repeat his delivery, resulting in him drawing little buzz in prospect circles heading into the spring. While the 6-foot-3, 220-pound James still appears destined for the bullpen over the long haul, he has improved his future outlook thanks to an uptick in his fastball velocity, with the offering now sitting at a consistent 94-to-96 miles per hour and occasionally touching the high 90s. James, who credits treatment for sleep apnea for the sizable jump in his velocity from the 89-to-93 mph range as recently as two years ago, has parlayed the improved fastball into a 15.8 K/9 this season at Corpus Christi. That more than doubles the 7.8 K/9 he has submitted over 364 innings in the professional ranks.