For the third straight year, the Tigers took a right-handed starter in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft.
The Tigers selected Florida’s Alex Faedo with the No. 18 pick, following last year’s selection of California prep right-hander Matt Manning at No. 9, and Beau Burrows, who was selected No. 22 in 2015.
Here’s what national analysts are saying about the Tigers’ top pick:
■ Retired MLB scout Dave Perkin for SI.com: “Nagging injuries prevented Faedo from fully participating in fall ball and inhibited his start to the season this spring. Now at full health, he has displayed the arm strength and stuff to vault back into first round consideration. Faedo delivers a low to mid 90s fastball and relies heavily on his low to mid 80’s slider.
“Minor league pitching coaches will be kept busy working on Faedo’s mechanics. He does a fine job of driving off his back leg, but straightens up and falls leftward as he delivers the ball, preventing him from driving directly to the target. He also brings his arm too far out and away from his body on release, making him an eventual injury risk.”
■ Jim Callis, MLB.com: “The Tigers drafted Faedo in the 40th round out of high school in 2014 and finally get him three years later. Coming into the year, they wouldn’t have expected him to fall to them at No. 18, but his fastball dipped into the low 90s for much of the year. He has one of the best sliders in this draft and could make for a high-leverage reliever if he doesn’t pan out as a starter.”
■ Keith Law, ESPN: "Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before — the Tigers are taking a power arm. Alex Faedo is a slider monster who's been up to the mid 90s but never got all the way back after autumn knee surgery. If the velocity returns he might be a frontline starter."
■ Baseball America: “... Faedo had minor surgery on both knees in the fall, affecting his conditioning and offseason routine, and hadn’t quite gotten rolling for much of the spring as the calendar turned to May. At its best, Faedo’s slider rivals that of North Carolina’s J.B. Bukauskas, though it has a bit less power in the 83-84 mph range. He manipulates the pitch’s shape well and can locate it for strikes or as a chase pitch, though at times he gets too cute and throws too many sliders. Faedo’s fastball velocity has tended to be average at 88-92 mph this spring, but he’s pitched in the 92-94 register in the past, and he fills up the strike zone with his heater despite it having plus life. He can sink it and cut it, and at times his changeup has similar sinking life and run. Faedo’s longer arm action gives scouts some pause but hasn’t impeded his feel for the strike zone, and he has plenty of track record for clubs picking high to rely on.”
■ Hall of Fame pitcher and Lansing native John Smoltz, analyst for MLB Network: "Part of why he's successful is the unorthodox mechanics that he possesses. ... I think this guy is just funky enough to make it miserable on the hitter. He goes downhill with his fastball, he'll change arm angles; he'll do whatever it takes to get the hitter out. And I got a little bit of a stretch here when I draw a comp between him and (former Royals pitcher) Kevin Appier. Kevin Appier was as nasty as they get, and his funky mechanics made it hard for the hitter to even recognize what pitch he was throwing. ... Alex Faedo is going to be able to upgrade his mechanics, and use that funkiness to give hitters fits. I think that command will be the only issue. If he can get locked in with his command, he is going to be awfully tough."
■ CBSSports.com staff: “Faedo saw his stock slip a little early on, as he was working his way back from knee surgery. He’s since repositioned himself back toward the front of the class, thanks in large part to his fastball-slider combination. Both pitches profile as above-average offerings. Add in his big frame and increasing feel for his changeup, and he’s well positioned to become a big-league starter.”
■ Joseph Zucker, Bleacher Report: “Alex Faedo was 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 17 starts in 2017 and struck out 132 batters in 107.1 innings. While the right-hander hasn’t been quite as dominant as some expected, he’s well worth a mid-first-round pick for the Detroit Tigers.” (Zucker gave the Tigers a B-plus for their first-day picks of Faedo and second-rounder Reynaldo Rivera.)