So, the Detroit Tigers drafted another college pitcher with a hard fastball and nasty slider. While this may cause some fans to whine about the team’s draft history and decry “same old Tigers,” Florida righthander Alex Faedo has more potential than the bevy of hard-throwing SEC pitchers that preceded him in the Tigers organization.
Leading up to the draft, Faedo was projected to be off the board well before the Tigers were on the clock. Following a spectacular sophomore season in which he held opponents to a 3.18 ERA in 104 2⁄3 innings, Faedo was mentioned as a potential top overall pick. He had bilateral knee surgery in the offseason and got off to a slow start during his junior year, but picked up enough steam as the season progressed to still land around the top 10. In his final mock draft, ESPN’s Keith Law predicted the Miami Marlins would select Faedo at No. 13 overall. Baseball America said the same in their last mock draft. MLB.com’s Jim Callis thought Faedo would go as early as No. 10, and MLB Pipeline ranked him as their No. 11 prospect in this year’s draft class.
While these rankings are not gospel, landing a prospect of that caliber several picks after he was expected to be selected is a nice bonus. Law called Faedo a potential frontline starter in some instant analysis after the draft, while others have chimed in on his talents throughout the draft cycle.
Minor League Ball’s Wayne Cavadi profiled Faedo’s top two pitches, a mid-90s fastball and lethal slider.
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.
MLB Pipeline also gave a glowing review, and touched on his developing changeup.
Faedo started the spring closer to the bottom end of his 90-94 mph fastball, but as he got his feet under him, he was sitting 93 mph and touching 95 more consistently with good sink. His slider has continued to look like an out pitch, though some feel he's been throwing it too much. Faedo threw his changeup more over the summer, showing a good feel for it, and it should give him a solid third offering in the future. He tends to be around the zone, though he's more control over command.
That last bit is important. Most Tigers draftees are infamous for their iffy command, but Faedo has pounded the zone in his time at Florida. He only walked 35 batters in 107 1⁄3 innings with the Gators this season, and had a walk rate of just 1.8 hitters per nine innings last year. He will need to refine his command at the professional level, of course, but has not had the same control issues other recent draftees have while facing college hitters.
2080 Baseball profiled Faedo (and a slew of other pitchers) early in the draft cycle, and came away impressed with his physical tools.
There’s some projection remaining Faedo’s frame, with room to fill out and firm up a body capable of eating innings at the professional level. With an above-average fastball that sits in the 91-to-93 mph range, a hard-biting plus slider that registers as one of the better pitches in the entire draft class, and a seldom used changeup that can flash above-average, Faedo provides an attractive target for teams looking for a collegiate arm that can offer upside and a solid track record.
There are still some concerns with Faedo’s profile, of course. Some scouts don’t like his delivery, which can be a bit jerky at times. His velocity is also somewhat of a concern following the knee surgeries he had last offseason, but he has reached as high as 97 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastball — a feat we witnessed in the NCAA regional shortly after he was drafted on Monday — along with a slider at 86-87 mph.
If Faedo can regain his old velocity and smooth out his mechanics, he’s a fairly sure bet to reach the majors in some capacity. He has the stuff to be a lockdown reliever or a solid mid-rotation starter — yes, I know, we’ve heard that before — but is polished enough to potentially take that extra step if everything pans out.