DETROIT -- Alex Faedo has yet to pitch in the big leagues, and probably won't get that chance for a little while longer. That did not dampen his popularity when the Tigers brought him to Comerica Park along with some of their other top-rated pitching prospects for an autograph session
DETROIT -- Alex Faedo has yet to pitch in the big leagues, and probably won't get that chance for a little while longer. That did not dampen his popularity when the Tigers brought him to Comerica Park along with some of their other top-rated pitching prospects for an autograph session at the D Shop earlier this month.
One by one, fans lined up for a chance at his signature. Faedo obliged, inking each item with a swipe of his left hand.
That last part raised a question, since Faedo is a right-handed pitcher. The answer spawned an interesting conversation with the Tigers' top pick from the 2017 MLB Draft and MLB Pipeline's fourth-ranked Tigers prospect. By the end, it was difficult to tell whether the lanky right-hander is actually a righty.
"I write with my left hand, eat with my left hand, kick with my left foot," Faedo explained. "I don't really do much with my right. Maybe I should actually be a lefty."
So why didn't the College World Series hero end up a left-handed pitcher? Faedo said it never really came up. He grew up throwing right-handed.
"I've never really tried," he said, "So that's probably why it's not that good. But, I mean, we're welcome to try to make me a double-arm."
The Tigers have tried plenty with Faedo's mechanics in just over a full season as a pro, sending him last summer to the University of Michigan's Sport Science Initiative to look at his delivery. But no, turning him into a switch-pitcher like Giants reliever Pat Venditte is not in the works.
Faedo was a left-handed hitter when he was young, he explained, but began batting righty after his lefty swing proved too much for daycare.
"My dad coaches baseball, so he always had me playing ball when I was really young, when I learned to walk," Faedo explained. "He said I always hit lefty, he said I had the perfect swing, stuff like that. And he said basically once my mom went back to work, I had to go to daycare, and the lady [there] didn't want me to hit the baseball off her tee and into the fence. So she switched my hands and made me hit towards the field.
"So then my dad was like, 'OK, it's time to hit,' and I went up righty, and I guess I refused to hit lefty for him anymore."
That has held true to this day. He swings a golf club right-handed, and if he ever has to bat in a National League ballpark, he'll do that right-handed, too.
"I'm OK at hitting batting practice," Faedo said, "but I'm not a great game hitter. It's been a while. And I wasn't a great game hitter in general. That's why I ended up pitching."
He says it as if it was a fallback plan. But he really did want to be a great hitter as a kid, not a pitcher.
"I don't think anyone goes out there when they're 10 years old and says, 'I want to be a pitcher,'" Faedo suggested. "I feel like everyone wanted to hit, and then their parents are like, 'Well, we have to win this tournament, so you're going to go pitch.'"
While Faedo's reasoning could be debated, his move has worked out so far. After going to the Tigers with the 18th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, he had his growing pains in his first pro season this past year. His 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings compared with 2.6 walks provided Tigers officials some encouragement despite a 4.02 ERA.
Most of his damage centered on home runs, 18 of them given up over 121 innings between Class A Advanced Lakeland and Double-A Erie. He gave up 15 home runs in the Double-A Eastern League, nine of them at Erie's UPMC Park, seven of those in back-to-back August starts at home, helping bump his Double-A ERA to 4.95.
"I threw a lot of strikes," Faedo said. "We played at a little smaller field. End of the year, maybe got a little tired and maybe balls were left up a little bit. But I mean, I guess you just give credit to the hitters."
Faedo had strong outings, too, including seven innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts in his next-to-last start of the season and seven scoreless innings in mid-July.
"I didn't really see necessarily a huge jump or anything," Faedo said of the midseason move to Double-A. "I mean, there's a lot of talent. I think we just started to work on a little bit different things up there. That's the only big takeaway. In high-A, it was kind of just doing what I do, and then once I moved up, we just started to tinker with things a little bit. But that was it."
He has spent his offseason working on getting stronger and getting his body ready for another jump in workload after throwing 121 innings over 24 starts. Though he has started throwing, he isn't going to tinker with any pitches before Spring Training unless team officials give him the go-ahead.
He is also bracing himself for the potentially chilly weather of April up north.
"I really like the cold weather," Faedo said. "I like it, honestly. I want it to snow. At home now, it's been getting to 40 [degrees] every once in a while, and I love it, because I just throw the sliding glass door open and just let the cold in, let it freeze my place up."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.