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MLB draft 2017: ESPN’s Keith Law projects Tigers will select RHP Alex Faedo

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A hard-throwing pitcher with spotty command? Sign me up!

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida vs Miami Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

I’m always impressed by the experts that create mock drafts. No matter the professional league, it seems like very hard work to assess a team’s needs, combine that with prior tendencies, and then repeat that process for 30 clubs. The Major League Baseball draft must be particularly difficult, because there are no obvious fits and players are usually so far away from reaching the majors.

Okay, maybe not for one team. ESPN’s Keith Law released his first mock draft of the year on Thursday and — surprise! — he believes the Detroit Tigers will take Florida righthander Alex Faedo with the 18th overall selection. Faedo, as you might imagine, is a large individual who throws hard, pitches for a big-time southern college program, and has command issues.

Specifically, Faedo stands 6’5 and weighs 225 pounds. He was 13-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 104 23 innings for the Gators as a sophomore. Minor League Ball’s Wayne Cavadi pointed out that Faedo had surgery on both of his knees over the winter, but he is already healthy and pitching again. Cavadi also offered an assessment of Faedo’s strengths.

His stuff isn't overpowering, but filthy nonetheless. Most will confirm he has two plus-pitches, that often play plus-plus. MLB Pipeline gives both his fastball and slider a grade of 60, but say both can touch 70. His fastball touches 92 to 95 miles per hour, but has been clocked higher when he unloads. His slider, once inconsistent, may be the best the college ranks have to offer. It hits as high as 87 according to most reports and has a serious bite. If batters make contact, it’s not very hard, and it has become a big time out pitch for the righty. He adds in a seldom-used changeup that hits in the lower 80s. The lack of use makes it his "worst" offering, but it is still an above-average offering.

Law was more concise in his evaluation.

Faedo has shown bigger velocity in the past but is more average this year, with a plus slider and below-average command.

MLB Pipeline ranks Faedo as their No. 11 overall draft prospect, and their evaluation suggests the Tigers would be getting a steal at 18.

Faedo entered the spring as a potential No. 1 pick as one of the top college arms in the class, especially after a sophomore season that saw him lead a Gators staff that included several early 2016 Draft selections and a strong performance for the US National College Team last summer. Minor arthroscopic knee surgery kept him from fall ball and that clearly contributed to a sluggish start to his 2017 season, though his stuff was starting to come back as the spring progressed.

Given their draft history, one imagines the Tigers would pounce all over Faedo if he is still available when they are on the clock. His recent surgeries and lackluster junior year results may scare some teams off, but his pedigree suggests he could be one of the better pitching prospects in the draft. The Tigers were not afraid to pluck Kyle Funkhouser out of Louisville in 2016, and could reach for that upside again if the right player is available again this year.