FSL notes: Faedo unfazed by big moments

No. 3 Tigers prospect off to solid start in pros following SEC title

Still searching for his first pro victory, Alex Faedo has a 2.34 ERA over six appearances for the Flying Tigers. (Tom Hagerty/MiLB.com)

By Kirsten Karbach / Special to MiLB.com | May 8, 2018 10:00 AM

Alex Faedo knows a thing or two about pitching under pressure.

On the day of the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the University of Florida Gators faced a decisive Game 3 against Wake Forest in the NCAA Super Regionals. The winner would advance to the College World Series. 

As the Draft began, Faedo and the Gators were weathering a three-hour rain delay. The junior right-hander was considered a likely first-round pick -- and also a prime candidate to close out the elimination game that night.

While Faedo readied himself in the bullpen, his coaches and teammates learned Faedo's career would continue as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

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"I think everyone knew," Faedo said. "But they weren't going to tell me, because they knew I had a chance to pitch at the end of the game. They didn't want me thinking about that, because it was a do-or-die game."

With his team up, 3-0, Faedo entered in the eighth inning in search of a six-out save, making his first relief appearance in over two years. Still unaware he had been drafted 18th overall, Faedo finished off Wake Forest by striking out now-Blue Jays prospect Ben Breazeale to send the Gators to the College World Series.

"Everyone was saying 'Congrats,' and I didn't really understand, because I was still in game mode," Faedo recalled.

Once informed, the celebration became twofold.

"That was a really special moment, because most people get to just experience it watching on TV," Faedo said of learning he'd been drafted. "Not very many people get to experience it that way."

He went on to hurl seven scoreless innings against TCU in the Gators' first game of the College World Series, and another 7 1/3 shutout frames in the elimination game that sent the Gators to the finals. UF defeated LSU two games to none to clinch its first national championship.

Faedo signed with Detroit on July 5 but would not pitch for the remainder of the summer after accumulating 123 2/3 collegiate innings in 2017.

Video: #123: Detroit Tigers first-rounder Alex Faedo

Currently ranked by MLB.com as the Tigers' No. 3 prospect, he received a non-roster invitation to Major League Spring Training and made one appearance with the big league club before landing in Lakeland to open his first professional season.

The 22-year-old Tampa native has enjoyed the opportunity to start his pro career close to home. Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, the home of the Flying Tigers, is only an hour's drive from Alonso High School, where Faedo played for his father, Landy.

"My family goes to all the games. I think the only game they haven't gone to is the road game in Jupiter, and my friends get to come up from back home," Faedo said. "It's neat for me just to throw in front of them, but also for them to be able to share the experience."

The 6-foot-5 hurler works with a fastball in the low to mid-90s, a slider and a changeup, and has posted a 2.34 ERA in his first six starts for the Flying Tigers, holding opponents to a .187 average.

A year removed from finishing with the highest career winning percentage in UF history (.824) and setting the Gators' single-season record with 157 strikeouts, Faedo brings not only a series of school records and collegiate success, but a track record of delivering in high-stakes moments.

"Playing in the SEC, you got to play in front of a lot of people, you got to play on TV often. ESPN was at the field often putting games on national television," Faedo said.

In the College World Series, Faedo and his teammates played in front of tens of thousands, while even more tuned in on national broadcasts.

"A lot of people don't get to experience that, and whenever you get to be in a hostile environment or situation again you know you can handle it," he said, "because you've been doing it for multiple years already."

In terms of preparation, Faedo looks at each game with the same perspective.

"I feel like I mentally prepare myself every single game that way, because you've just got to kind of teach yourself what's best for you," he said. "I don't think you should be changing things up, making it a bigger deal because it's a playoff game. It is a big deal, but you should be able to prepare yourself and get yourself to that frame of mind every time you go out there and pitch."

In brief

Hammer time: The Jupiter Hammerheads earned their 20th win of the season on May 3, becoming the first team to reach that mark in the Minors this year. Led by No. 3 Marlins prospect Jorge Guzman, No. 10 prospect Brian Miller, No. 16 prospect Joe Dunand and No. 17 prospect Riley Mahan, the Hammerheads went 18-6 in the month of April.

Hall hacks: Clearwater first baseman Darick Hall clubbed his 10th home run of the season on May 5, which ties him for third in all of Minor League Baseball. He trails only Franmil Reyes (El Paso) and Juan Soto (Potomac). Hall, who set the Lakewood Blue Claws record and led the South Atlantic League with 27 home runs in 2017, is batting .308 with 25 RBIs through 29 games.

The streak lives: Second-ranked Yankees prospect Estevan Florial has reached base in 23 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Florida State League. Florial has found his way aboard in 25 of his 26 games this season.

Kirsten Karbach is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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