Feature Photo: Alex Faedo, RHP, Univ. of Florida
In this week’s MLB Draft Bites, I provide notes on a pair of college pitchers who attack opposing hitters with distinct approaches, and I also share quick hits on a collegiate lefty who had a career day, and an infielder looking to establish himself into consideration as an early Day Two pick in the upcoming 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft June 12.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out our rapidly-growing 2017 MLB Draft Class Video Library here!
Alex Faedo, RHP, Univ. of Florida | 2017 Draft Class
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/220 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of 2017 MLB Draft): 21y, 6m
Despite missing time last fall due to arthroscopic surgery on both knees, Faedo entered the season as a potential 1:1 draft candidate. On a Florida staff that included three of the top 50 picks last year (A.J. Puk at #6, Dane Dunning at #29, and Logan Shore at #47) Faedo stood out by showing the best mix of stuff and results, finishing the year with a 13-3 record, 3.17 ERA, 11.40 SO/9 ratio and a BB/9 rate of just 1.80/9.
Tall and lean at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Faedo has a prototypical starter’s body. He employs an abbreviated windup that’s somewhat up-tempo with a moderate level of effort. Though Faedo’s actions are generally clean, coming full circle with his arm before releasing the ball out of a 3/4’s arm slot, Faedo falls off the mound to the first base side to the point where it sometimes disrupts the consistency of his release point. Faedo’s fastball is an above-average offering sitting 91-to-93 mph that he locates to both sides of the plate and it plays up due to plus control and some deception. Early in the Spring, Faedo’s fastball velocity appeared to back up a tick or two as he built up strength following the surgeries, but he was back in his standard range last weekend more consistently hitting the 93 mph. Faedo’s calling card is a slider that’s a true plus offering, with depth and bite that makes it one of the better pitches in the entire 2017 MLB Draft class.
Friday against Georgia, Faedo went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven and walking two. On the season, Faedo is 6-foot-1, with a 2.63 ERA and 10.50 SO/9. Though the diminished fastball velocity seems to have hurt is draft stock, Faedo should come off the board in the middle of the first round.
Zach Pop, RHP, Univ. of Kentucky | 2017 Draft Class
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/220 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of 2017 MLB Draft): 20y, 8m
One of the top high school talents in Canada in 2014, the Blue Jays selected Pop in the 23rd round of the MLB Draft out of Notre Dame Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario. Pop didn’t sign, choosing instead to honor his commitment to Kentucky. Though he has a live arm, Pop has worked primarily in relief throughout his collegiate career due to control issues and inconsistent secondary offerings.
Pop has a tall frame with a medium build. Though he has long limbs, they go underutilized as he fails to get out front due to a short stride toward home plate and a 3/4’s crossfire delivery. Despite the lack of extension, Pop’s fastball can get on hitters in a hurry because of its sheer velocity. Sitting in the mid-to-upper 90s, Pop’s fastball has sinking action, which generates ground balls as well as swings and misses. He also mixes in a hard 85-to-86 mph slider with late tilt, and a developing changeup that he uses sparingly.
The biggest challenge facing Pop throughout his collegiate career is his ability to throw strikes. Lacking command or even basic control, Pop has walked 4.68-hitters-per-nine innings throughout his career, including a discouraging career-worst 5.66-per nine this season. Though Pop is raw as a pitcher, the combination of his electric arm and projectable body makes him an appealing follow who could be drafted early on Day Two. Even if he were to hone in his control, there’s considerable effort in the delivery which, paired with the shallow arsenal, leads me to belief he’s likely headed for the bullpen as a professional.
2017 MLB DRAFT BITES
- We would be hard pressed to find a draft prospect who had a better weekend than Oregon ace David Peterson. With the Ducks hosting Arizona State, Peterson struck out 20 Sun Devils in a complete game shutout while walking one and surrendering four hits. After that gem, Peterson’s record now stands at 9-2 with a 1.94 ERA and 107 strikeouts compared to just six walks. Once considered a late Day One prospect, Peterson’s strong season has vaulted him into first-round consideration.
- While Louisville’s Brendan McKay getting top five overall consideration, it’s his teammate Drew Ellis (VIDEO) who leads the Cardinals in hitting. Splitting time between the infield corners, the right-handed hitting Ellis is slashing .403/.497/.753 while leading the team in doubles (13) and tying McKay with 13 home runs. Heating up as the draft approaches, Ellis is hitting .611 with four home runs while slugging 1.500 in a seven-day period ending Sunday, April 30. Ellis could be drafted early in the second day due to the general lack of college bats in this class.
- Fresno State lefty Ricky Tyler Thomas (VIDEO) has had an up-and-down season, and Saturday’s start against San Jose State was a microcosm of his inconsistencies. Thomas didn’t allow a hit over seven innings while striking out eight and walking five. Thomas works off an 89-to-91 mph fastball and an advanced changeup to generate swings and misses, but he’s struggled with control, walking five-or-more hitters in a game four times this season. On the year, Thomas is 4-3 with a 3.74 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 36 walks over 65 innings.
- Texas right-hander Morgan Cooper (VIDEO) is improving his stock with a strong spring. He was dominate last weekend against Oklahoma State, striking out 11 over seven innings while allowing two hits. Working off a 92-to-94 mph fastball and deep repertoire that includes a curveball, slider and changeup that all flash above average, Cooper has put together a 5-2 record with a 1.61 ERA and opponents are hitting just .185 against him.