By Brady Fredericksen, GateHouse Media Services
LAKELAND — Someday, Alex Faedo will pitch for a team outside of Florida.
The hope is that it first comes in Pennsylvania with the Erie SeaWolves and then in Ohio with the Toledo Mud Hens. If all goes as planned, that road will end in Detroit with the Tigers. For now, the former Florida star and top Tigers prospect is happy to be in his home state with the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
“I hope I can play somewhere else,” Faedo said with a laugh. “Very lucky for my family as well, just so they can come and watch me very often.”
Drafted with the No. 18 pick in the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the 6-foot-5, 230 pound righty will throw his first professional pitch on Friday when the Tampa Tarpons visit Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Florida State League season actually begins tonight at Marchant with the Tarpons and Tigers set to play at 6:30 p.m.
The Tampa Alonso grad starred with the Gators over the past three seasons, winning 28 games while compiling a 2.80 ERA in 288 2/3 innings. Faedo struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings over the course of his career, leading Florida to the 2017 College World Series title.
He was named College World Series Most Outstanding Player after that run.
“I know where he was drafted,” said Flying Tigers manager Mike Rabelo. “I don’t really know much, but I’m going to see every fifth day. I’m excited to see what Alex can do because there’s high hopes for him.”
Detroit opted to rest Faedo last season after watching him throw a career-high 123 2/3 innings for Florida. That gave him a glimpse at pro ball as he spent the summer working out in Lakeland with one of the Tigers’ Gulf Coast League teams.
Faedo, 22, broke camp this spring as a non-roster invite to big league spring training.
“It was really cool,” he said. “I thought it would be kind of weird to connect with guys because a lot of people have families and a lot of people are way older than me. The amount of good guys they have on that squad over there — in the clubhouse, not only on the field, but off the field — just a bunch of high-character guys. You look at these guys on TV and you don’t know how they’re going to act, but then you go there the first day and nobody is big leaguing you. It’s really cool to see.”
As the Tigers have started rebuilding their major league roster, they’ve committed to re-stocking their depleted farm system. According to MLB.com, six of the top eight prospects in the Detroit system are pitchers.
Faedo ranks as their No. 3 prospect — the No. 59 prospect in baseball — and he will be joined in Lakeland by No. 7 prospect Isaac Paredes and No. 8 prospect Gregory Soto. Paredes, an infielder, was acquired in the Justin Wilson trade with the Chicago Cubs last season.
Soto spent time with Lakeland last year, compiling a 2.25 ERA in five starts.
Outfielder Daz Cameron, the son of longtime big league outfielder Mike Cameron, is the team’s No. 9 prospect and should see ample time in the outfield. He was acquired from the Houston Astros as part of the Justin Verlander trade.
Once the team’s top-ranked prospect, Derek Hill will join Cameron in the outfield along with Jose Azocar. Hill and Azocar are ranked as the No. 13 and 18 players in the system while righty Jason Foley is ranked at No. 23 and will open the season on the DL.
George Jenkins grad and former Florida State standout Drew Carlton will also be a part of the Flying Tigers’ bullpen this season.