The Draft Philes: The Gator Pitching Factory Continues

It’s been awhile since I have had a weekend where I got to sleep in, as I have had to wake up early in the morning for my regular job the last four for mandatory extra work. So here I am for the first time in what seems like an eternity, waking up at 9 a.m. with a full free day ahead of me, trying to think of what to do to kick off my day. Knowing that I was going to be writing about Alex Faedo at some point later, I decided to replay his most recent start vs Auburn in the SEC tournament on Wednesday to kill some time before the Phillies played (why am I doing this to myself?). For six innings he was really good before he was pulled in the seventh after letting the first two hitters reach base. His line that night: 6+ IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 7/2 K/BB, 106 pitches. After that performance, I couldn’t help but wonder why there are questions about if Faedo should be a top 10 pick or not.

Faedo’s background is impressive. He has baseball roots as his uncle, Lenny, was a 1st round pick of the Twins in 1978 and played parts of five major league seasons. He ended up being Alex’s high school coach. After being picked in the final round by Detroit in 2014, Alex went to Florida where he would be a starter almost immediately in his freshman season and be the most impressive pitcher during his sophomore campaign. This is saying a lot since that rotation also had A.J. Puk and Logan Shore and another starter who was bumped for Faedo in Dane Dunning. All three would be chosen in the first 47 picks in the 2016 draft. After playing second fiddle for two seasons, it was now Alex who be the Friday starter (the ace role in college) heading into his junior season

At the end of the summer circuit, Faedo had a real good chance to be a top three pick in 2017.  However he would have minor arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees in the fall, which should sound familiar to Phillies fans since Zach Eflin went through a similar thing (tendinitis) in August last year. Faedo struggled to get things going early because he couldn’t go through with his normal offseason routine and improve his conditioning. He did okay for a guy of his stature vs Florida’s SEC opponents (3.52 ERA, 76/23 K/BB in 64.1 IP) but it wasn’t always dazzling. And most reports had his fastball drop in range this year, which might have affected his draft stock from being a firm to more of a fringe top 10 selection. But from what I watched vs Auburn, he was sitting 91-95 mph just like most scouts had him after the summer. Not only that, he went to his rarely used change-up and it was very effective in his gameplan.

The Phillies are sitting in a position where they could be taking prospects from both automatic and fringe top 10 draft prospects. But in my opinion, Faedo isn’t a fringe top 10, he’s firmly in it. A lot of the opinions on Faedo sound more like fatigue or the “upside over safe card” than him falling off the map. This is someone who may make it to the majors quickly if he approaches the pros with the gameplan he has gone out with in his most recent starts. And considering how bad the Phillies staff has been lately, Faedo might be worth taking a hard look at #8 (not to suggest he’ll be contributing in 2018). In fact John Manuel of Baseball America has the Phillies taking the Florida ace in his recent mock draft. And based on his quick synopsis of the Phillies situation, I would say Faedo is a strong bet when we get to June 12.

Alex Faedo, RHP, University of Florida

6’5″, 220 lb

Bats/Throws: R/R

Previously Drafted: Detroit Tigers, 2014 40th rd

Rankings (as of 5/28/17): MLB.com #11, Baseball America #10, ESPN #13

Strengths

Repeats delivery well, throws on a downward plane with a 3/4 arm action. Slider is a true out pitch that he can command on both sides of the plate; sits mainly at 83-84 mph. Fastball gets good sink and cut action to it; started in the around 88-92 mph in the spring, ticked up to 92-94 in recent weeks with improved conditioning.  Change-up gets good sink at 86-88 mph, flashes above average. All of his pitches generate plenty of weak contact

Weaknesses

Seems to put a lot of pressure on his knees in his delivery, leans a bit forward on the upper half, may have been why he had the minor surgery on both knees. Fastball command/control can still be shaky at times; follow through on his arm can jerk the action on the ball. Struggles vs left handed hitters (.259 avg vs LH, .191 vs RH as of 5/23); tries to keep his fastball away from the hitter, doesn’t really challenge them. Change-up gets rarely used despite it’s potential

What the Numbers Say

2015 (Freshman): 19 G (12 GS), 61.1 IP, 6-1, 3.23 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 59 K, 16 BB, 59 H, 9 HR allowed, 5 WP, 8.66 K/9, 2.35 BB/9

2016 (Sophomore): 17 G (all starts), 104.2 IP, 13-3, 3.18 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 133 K, 21 BB, 87 H, .222 opp AVG, 6 HR allowed, 5 WP, 11 HBP, 11.44 K/9, 1.81 BB/9

2017 (Junior): 15 G (all starts), 96.1 IP, 7-2, 2.80 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 113 K, 32 BB, 81 H, .235 opp AVG, 4 HR allowed, 6 HBP, 10.56 K/9, 2.99 BB/9

Overall Assessment

While Faedo’s ability to get left handed hitters out is a bit below average, he will be really good at the next level vs right-handed hitters with his fastball-slider combination; he will get a lot of strikeouts from right-handers on his slider.  There should be a little concern about how much of a beating his lower half will take if he can not get stronger in that region or make a tweak in his stride; though this is not of a concern when talking about his ability to command a baseball. The key at the next level will be if he can learn to use his changeup more, particularly to left handed bats to keep them off-balance and guessing. Between that and getting slightly better command with his fastball, Faedo doesn’t have much else to work with his stuff to be a mid-rotation starter. But if he can make those minor improvements, his presence on the mound and confidence in his fastball and slider has all the makings of a #2 starter.

Author: Jeff Israel

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