Draft was furthest thing from Faedo's mind

Focus of Tigers' top pick was reaching College World Series

June 13th, 2017

DETROIT -- Alex Faedo didn't want to know.

Whatever happened Monday evening in the Draft, whatever course his Major League future was about to take, he didn't want to think about it. He wanted his focus on the University of Florida and their NCAA Super Regional game against Wake Forest, with a College World Series berth on the line. He was serious enough about it that he reached an agreement with his family and teammates not to tell him until after the game.

"Honestly, my family, friends and teammates did a great job not putting any pressure on me," Faedo said Tuesday morning. "Everything was about Florida baseball. I didn't worry about it. I knew everything was out of my control. I knew the biggest thing for me was going to Omaha.

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"My family didn't want me to know anything about the Draft. They just wanted me to focus on the game. They said just, 'Stay focused. We'll figure it out.'"

So as the Tigers delighted in their fortune to have him available with the 18th overall pick, three years after Detroit drafted him in the 40th round out of high school, there was the odd sight in Gainesville: Faedo's family and friends were watching and celebrating his pick, without Faedo. He was in the Florida bullpen.

Faedo, who started against Wake Forest on Saturday, recorded the final six outs Monday, then exalted with his teammates on the field. Gators shortstop Dalton Guthrie broke the news to him there.

"After the dogpile, my best buddy came up and told me," Faedo said. "And it didn't sink in then. I think it's sinking in now."

It was a fitting scene, all of it. The Tigers had followed Faedo ever since his prep career at Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa, Fla., where he learned from fellow alumnus . Detroit used its final pick in 2014 on him, knowing he was heading to college, but letting him know they'd be watching.

The Tigers followed him during the SEC schedule, with assistant general manager David Chadd among those to watch him pitch and see the maturity he had developed since his high school days.

"I just think I've matured," Faedo. "I think I was [throwing] two pitches in high school. I developed more of a changeup last summer, and I've figured out how to get deeper into ballgames."

But as the Tigers put together their pre-Draft rankings, they weren't optimistic he would be available when their pick came up. Projections had Faedo going within the top 15 picks. With needs at a lot of areas, the Tigers were in good position to wait for a highly-ranked prospect to fall.

"It was a little wait-and-see," scouting director Scott Pleis said. "We had Alex ranked high on the board. Quite honestly, we weren't sure he was going to get to us. As the Draft went on, he was still up there, still up there. We were hoping we'd have a shot at him, but weren't too optimistic. It just kind of fell in place."

It was a unique scene for the Tigers as well. As they celebrated their good fortune in their Draft room at the Tigers' Spring Training complex in Lakeland, Fla., they tuned into the Florida-Wake Forest game.

When the Tigers drafted out of North Carolina in 2006, they got to watch him pitch in the College World Series the following week. This was different. When Faedo entered the game, they were watching their future investment on immediate display.

"It was a little surreal," Pleis said. "We're working hard for our next pick. It was fun to see."

Miller went on to pitch for the Tigers that season. Faedo isn't likely to do that. But even as the Tigers preach patience with their prospects, Pleis said Faedo has a chance to push his way up the organization quickly.

First, though, he has a little more work to do in Omaha.

"Alex has got great stuff, [comes from a] great program, great conference," Pleis said. "I see him as a little more advanced maybe than some other guys. But his development, it's not going to be something we're going to be pushing Alex to speed up the process. We're going to let things develop and do things the right way. And things will work out."

They already have.

"It was a dream come true," Faedo said.