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Faedo hopes to make most of spring invite

Tigers pitching prospect will spend time in camp observing, learning
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The body frame and the delivery are unmistakable. They're just a little unusual to watch in action here on the back fields at Tigertown, in Major League camp.

"I feel like I throw pretty normal," Alex Faedo said. "But I don't know. I just pick up the ball and throw it. I never thought of myself having a weird delivery."

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The body frame and the delivery are unmistakable. They're just a little unusual to watch in action here on the back fields at Tigertown, in Major League camp.

"I feel like I throw pretty normal," Alex Faedo said. "But I don't know. I just pick up the ball and throw it. I never thought of myself having a weird delivery."

The last time Faedo put that delivery to work, he was starring in the College World Series, helping lead the University of Florida to its first national title in front of a packed crowd in Omaha and a worldwide television audience. That was eight months ago, just a couple of weeks after the Tigers drafted him with the 18th overall pick. The bigger Faedo pitched, the more Detroit officials had to bless their luck the draft was sooner rather than later.

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Now, Faedo is in their Major League camp. He's not competing so much as pitching and observing. The buzz of a must-win game has been replaced by the quiet of early spring workouts, the pop of the mitts echoing down the row of bullpen mounds.

For many, this is where the season begins. For Faedo, this is where his pro career opens. He's a long way from Detroit, but he's in a good place to start.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Faedo, RHP, Tigers

"Quite frankly, he's an advanced player," general manager Al Avila said. "It's not like we just drafted a high-school kid that's just turned 18 years old and doesn't know anything at all. This guy is a very advanced pitcher. He's been to the College World Series, so he is going to get a great experience being in camp, just being around some of the guys and seeing how they go about their work to get prepared for the season.

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"That experience in itself is good, plus get our Major League staff -- all of our Minor League staff here too -- it's a good time for them to get a feel for him, and him to them."

Faedo's not in a high-profile spot in the clubhouse, tucked amongst the rest of the prospects and non-roster invites. His jersey number, 75, reflects a similar status. As Faedo took the back mounds on Friday, however, he was throwing alongside Michael Fulmer, Mike Fiers and Matthew Boyd.

"I think it's a great opportunity, a great experience to work with guys who have been playing in the Major Leagues, coaches that have been coaching for longer than I've been alive," Faedo said. "I'm not going out there thinking anything besides learning and trying to get better."

The camp invite notwithstanding, the Tigers have shown an abundance of patience. After all Faedo's innings in Florida's title run, Detroit decided to rest him for the summer. He did not pick up a ball, he said, until after the fall instructional league, and even then he wasn't throwing.

"I wanted to throw," Faedo said, "but I understood where everyone was coming from on not throwing. It was just something I had to accept. I wasn't going to beat myself up over it. I knew I was going to throw again."

The invite is his reward. A Spring Training game appearance or two will likely be Faedo's next prize, making his first pro pitches in a Detroit Tigers uniform in front of friends and family from Tampa. After that, he'll head to Minor League camp, where player development officials will weigh where to send him in the system.

"I would say when he goes to Minor League camp, that will determine where he starts," Avila said. "I don't want to predict where he's going to start, but just knowing how we've done things in the past historically, we probably would want him to start in warmer weather. So it wouldn't surprise me that he might start in Lakeland. Maybe we decide to send him to West Michigan. But we haven't made any final decisions."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Alex Faedo