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Top pick Faedo headlines NRIs to spring camp

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Alex Faedo's first pitches as a pro will be in a Tigers uniform during Spring Training. Detroit's top pick from the 2017 Draft was one of 22 players invited to Major League camp, the team announced Tuesday.

Most of the invitations went to veterans signed to Minor League contracts that had already been reported. Faedo -- the Tigers' third-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- and catcher Jake Rogers were the two notable exceptions. Neither has enough professional time to require protection on the Tigers' 40-man roster, but both have enough potential for the Tigers' big league staff to merit a look.

DETROIT -- Alex Faedo's first pitches as a pro will be in a Tigers uniform during Spring Training. Detroit's top pick from the 2017 Draft was one of 22 players invited to Major League camp, the team announced Tuesday.

Most of the invitations went to veterans signed to Minor League contracts that had already been reported. Faedo -- the Tigers' third-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- and catcher Jake Rogers were the two notable exceptions. Neither has enough professional time to require protection on the Tigers' 40-man roster, but both have enough potential for the Tigers' big league staff to merit a look.

The Tigers selected Faedo with the 18th overall pick in last year's Draft, but shut him down for the summer out of precaution after he led the University of Florida to the College World Series title in June. His postseason workload for the Gators was enough that Tigers officials felt the rest would do him some good, allowing him to rest up for 2018.

All the while, team officials have been quiet on where Faedo might begin his pro career, preferring to let him get into Spring Training and pitch again before putting any expectations on him. Now, those first pitches will be in front of new pitching coach Chris Bosio, who said last Saturday at TigerFest that he has already spoken with the gifted young right-hander.

"Alex was a case that I was asked to call, because he's new to the organization," Bosio said, "and we were just making 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."

Faedo's invite does not mean he'll be competing for a big league spot. Though the Tigers have set up a competition for the final spots in their rotation, they've emphasized all along that they want to exercise patience with Faedo and allow him to develop. Most likely, Faedo will spend the early part of Spring Training with the big league contingent -- and, notably, the Major League coaching staff, especially Bosio -- before heading to Minor League camp in March.

Rogers, the seventh-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline's Tigers list and sixth-ranked catching prospect across baseball, was less of a surprise. The former Astros prospect reached the Class A Advanced level before joining the Tigers as part of the Justin Verlander trade. Detroit considered sending Rogers to the Arizona Fall League, but the end-of-August trade came too late to put it together.

The Tigers always have a surplus of catchers in camp so pitchers aren't standing around waiting for somebody to catch their side sessions. Rogers will be one of seven catchers in camp, including starter James McCann, John Hicks and fellow catching prospect Grayson Greiner. McCann was not with the team at TigerFest last week, staying at home in Nashville, Tenn., to be with his wife and their newborn twins -- who arrived earlier than expected -- but manager Ron Gardenhire said McCann plans to be in camp when pitchers and catchers begin workouts Feb. 14.

Like Faedo, Rogers is not expected to compete for a roster spot. He'll likely open the season at Double-A Erie, but should benefit from the experience of working with Tigers pitchers -- much like McCann did four years ago before he made the team out of camp in 2015. Rogers, a third-round pick in 2016 out of Tulane, has a reputation as a very good defensive catcher who works well with pitchers.

Here's the full list of non-roster invites:

Right-handed pitchers: Victor Alcantara, Enrique Burgos, Kevin Comer, Alex Faedo, Mark Montgomery, Paul Voelker

Left-handed pitcher: Travis Wood

Catchers: Derek Norris, Brayan Pena, Arvicent Perez, Jake Rogers

Infielders: Alexi Amarista, Harold Castro, Kody Eaves, Edwin Espinal, Dominic Ficociello, Niko Goodrum, Pete Kozma, Ronny Rodriguez

Outfielders: Jim Adduci, Chad Huffman, Jason Krizan

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

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