Arguably the most exciting new player to watch in Tigers camp has virtually no chance of making the Major League team out of Spring Training. However, 2017 first-round pick Alex Faedo has an opportunity to make a good first impression toward getting to Detroit sooner rather than later.Just eight months
Arguably the most exciting new player to watch in Tigers camp has virtually no chance of making the Major League team out of Spring Training. However, 2017 first-round pick Alex Faedo has an opportunity to make a good first impression toward getting to Detroit sooner rather than later.
Just eight months after Faedo led the University of Florida to its first College World Series title, Faedo will be taking the mound alongside veterans and promising youngsters on the mounds at Tigertown. He'll be just a couple of hours from his college grounds in Gainesville, Fla., and less than an hour from his home in Tampa, but worlds away from college ball.
Faedo -- who finished 2017 as Detroit's No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- hasn't thrown in a game since the College World Series, a decision the Tigers made to give him some rest after he racked up innings through the NCAA Tournament. He'll have to strike the balance in camp between getting ready for his first taste of pro ball and trying to compete against big league hitters, whether it's in live batting practice or the Tigers' annual exhibition against Florida Southern College or in a Grapefruit League appearance.
Watching Faedo compete in Omaha, Neb., last June left no doubt that his competitive fire drives him as much as his talent. It's one of the factors that led the Tigers to draft him with their first-round selection once he surprisingly fell out of the Top 10. There's a risk to that drive in the spring if he tries to throw too hard, too soon, or to lean on the slider that earned him so many outs in college ball but also puts stress on an arm if overused.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
The Tigers have to temper that competitiveness without suppressing it, which makes how new pitching coach Chris Bosio works with Faedo as intriguing as watching Faedo pitch.
"Alex was a case that I was asked to call, because he's new to the organization," Bosio said at TigerFest a week and a half ago, "and we were just making [clear] that we were on the same page as far as his throwing program and his workouts. I was very impressed. He's a well-spoken young man, driven young man, and he's definitely on the right track for a guy so early in his pro career."
The fact that such a track includes big league camp so soon isn't unprecedented, but it's relatively rare. The Tigers have had younger pitchers in camp than the 22-year-old Faedo; Rick Porcello made Detroit's rotation out of Spring Training as a 20-year-old in 2009 with no work above Class A ball. But not since Andrew Miller went from the College World Series in June 2006 to the Tigers' bullpen in an American League Central race in September has a Tigers Draft pick vaulted so quickly. Ryan Perry went from being a Tigers top pick in 2008 to Detroit's bullpen the following spring, but had more Minor League work in between (12 games for Class A Lakeland) than Miller (three).
Faedo won't get to the Majors that quickly, not when the rebuilding Tigers are preaching patience with all their top pitching prospects. Still, it'll be interesting to see if he can hasten his path a bit with a strong camp.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.