Prospect Faedo to have Tommy John surgery

December 19th, 2020

Tigers pitching prospect will undergo Tommy John surgery this month to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, the team announced Saturday.

Faedo, the Tigers’ first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, ranks 10th on the Tigers' Top 30 Prospects list, per MLB Pipeline. He was in a good position to make his Major League debut at some point next season, but now will spend the next year rehabbing. The Tigers didn’t release an expected timetable for his return, but under a typical 14-16 month recovery, Faedo should be ready to pitch again in the 2022 season.

The surgery ends a brutal year for Faedo, who made a strong impression in big league camp at Spring Training before the coronavirus pandemic brought baseball to a halt. When camps resumed in July, Faedo missed Summer Camp in Detroit while in COVID protocol, and he wasn’t cleared to take part until camp was over.

Faedo joined the rest of the Tigers’ highly touted pitching prospects at the alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio, but he was shut down in September with what the team described as a right forearm strain. He worked out at the Tigers’ instructional camp in Lakeland, Fla., in October on a limited basis, though he wasn’t taking part in game action.

Unfortunately, the forearm soreness apparently continued.

“After consultation between our club medical experts and outside specialists, the recommendation was made for Alex Faedo to undergo reconstructive surgery of his UCL on his right arm,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “Alex is in agreement with this course of action, and is scheduled to have the procedure later this month. We know he will approach the process with the necessary dedication that gets him back on the mound.”

Faedo is trying to stay positive about the setback.

“I’m ready to start this process and excited to get back to being healthy and contributing to the Tigers,” Faedo, who turned 25 last month, tweeted Saturday afternoon. “Big things coming with this organization, and I’m really excited to see the boys get after 2021.”

Faedo is the second Tigers prospect in the top 10 of MLB Pipeline's rankings to undergo Tommy John surgery this year. Joey Wentz, who joined Faedo in a prospect-stacked pitching rotation at Double-A Erie in 2019, underwent surgery in March and is currently rehabbing. He ranks ninth on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Prospects list for the club.

The Tigers have loaded up on pitching in recent Drafts and through trades, knowing the road to Detroit wouldn’t be smooth for all of them. By building depth, the Tigers believe that enough of them will make it to form the core of the rotation for a contending club in the coming years.

Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, Detroit’s second- and fifth-ranked prospects, made their Major League debuts in 2020 and are expected to compete for rotation spots next Spring Training. Matt Manning, the club's third-ranked prospect, also was shut down in September with a forearm strain, but he worked out in instructional ball and said in October that he felt good.

Faedo had been remarkably durable since his college career at the University of Florida, where he was a hero of the Gators’ College World Series title team in 2017. He didn’t make his pro debut until '18 and struggled to catch up, but he still threw 121 innings over 24 starts between Class A Advanced Lakeland and Double-A Erie. He returned to Erie in 2019 and threw 115 1/3 innings over 22 starts, posting a 6-7 record with a 3.90 ERA and 134 strikeouts.