ANAHEIM—Alex Faedo doesn’t like to talk about the MLB Draft.
His second cousin Lenny was a first-round pick of the Twins in 1978, and Faedo is considered a top prospect in next year’s class, but the Florida righthander and his family have placed a moratorium on any draft talk.
With more outings like the one he had Thursday night though, the rising junior might find it increasingly difficult to avoid the topic of his looming pro career.
Faedo faced one batter over the minimum over four scoreless innings in his first start for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, paving the way for a four-hit shutout and a 5-0 win over the Urban Youth Academy Barons of the California Collegiate League at Angel Stadium.
Faedo allowed just two hits, walked none, and struck out five while throwing 33 of his 43 pitches for strikes.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen him live. On tape and TV he looked impressive, but he looks even more impressive in person,” said CNT manager George Horton, who is Oregon’s head coach. “Real simple, clean delivery, nice and easy, and just absolutely filthy stuff. I almost felt sorry for the hitters.”
Faedo, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound Tampa native, flashed a 92-94 mph fastball and a mid-80s changeup, but it was his biting 85-87 mph slider that was his biggest weapon.
He struck out four of his five batters on the slider, and used it to get a heavy dose of feeble swings that led to weak contacts.
“I thought my stuff felt really good today,” Faedo said. “Having two weeks off was really good on my arm. I didn’t feel like I just threw a whole season.”
The start was just another in a series of dominant 2016 outings for Faedo. On a Gators pitching staff that included four top-100 picks this past draft, Faedo led Florida in wins (13) and strikeouts (133) while holding opponents to a .221 average.
The dominant stuff that led to that success was on display immediately at Angel Stadium. All five of Faedo’s strikeouts came within the first eight batters, and the only hits he allowed were ground ball singles that found a hole.
“For me it was my first time catching him, his fastball just jumps out of his hand,” said catcher Evan Skoug, from TCU. “You don’t see it very well and it just pops. That and then he had a really good slider working for him and had a really good mix going for him. He was definitely for real.”
In all, it was the type of outing that just further fueled Faedo’s draft talk.
“As we like to say, ‘That’s what it looks like,’” Horton said. “It’s one thing to have nasty stuff and throw that hard, but to be able to throw it with command and breaking ball to both sides of the plate, he’d be a fun guy to call pitches for.
“You just shake your head. He’s got quite a future and we’re happy to have him on our ballclub.”
The rest of the Team USA staff followed Faedo’s lead. Fresno State lefthander Ricky Tyler Thomas pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, South Carolina righthander Tyler Johnson and New Mexico lefthander Luis Gonzalez were perfect in their relief outings, and Rice righthanded closer Glenn Otto closed it out with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth on diving 12-to-6 curveballs.
Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall continued his standout showing during trials week, going 2 for 4 with a stolen base, a run scored and a two-run triple to lead Team USA’s offense. UC Irvine’s Keston Hiura added a solo homer in the ninth.
The Collegiate National Team continues play Friday at 6:30 pm Eastern at Angel Stadium against the Conejo Oaks of the California Collegiate League.