Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Hillsborough baseball preview

TAMPA — He's one of the Tampa Bay area's biggest prospects, but Alex Faedo shrugs off the very mention of that notion.

Maybe its because the reserved right-hander, who has been sidelined with a toe injury, doesn't want to jinx himself before even throwing his first pitch for Alonso this season. Or maybe it's because until recently, the University of Florida commit wasn't even sure what his future in baseball could be.

But the 6-foot-5 senior, who sat the bench and kept score just three years ago as the Ravens won their last state championship, is beginning to figure all that out. And now he's not only on the brink of ushering in a bright future for himself, but bringing the Ravens back to recent glory days.

Alex has mastered three pitches, including a fastball that's been clocked at 94 mph. But Landy Faedo, Alex's father and 12th-year coach at Alonso, said his son matured late physically.

It wasn't until just last year that Landy realized his son had something special.

"I didn't want to overuse him because of growth plates and tendons and muscles," Landy said of Alex's junior season. "But I'd bring him in for two or three innings, and he'd just shut teams down."

Alex had started just one game on the mound as a sophomore, but his coach decided to give him another shot at the starting role March 12, 2013, for a Saladino Tournament game against Plant City.

The Ravens won 7-1. But the biggest takeaway of the day was Alex's 17-strikeout performance, a Saladino Tournament record.

"The game went by so fast," Alex recalled. "I was so in tune with the game, I didn't even know what was going on."

With that, Alex had earned his spot as Alonso's starter. And for the rest of the year, he didn't disappoint, finishing with an 8-2 record and a 1.15 ERA in 55.1 innings, including a five-inning no hitter against Chamberlain.

Growing up, Alex didn't pitch much, spending most of his time at first base. Now that he's found his niche on the diamond, however, the right-hander couldn't be happier. That goes for his teammates, too, who have enjoyed watching Alex come into his own.

"He was always good, but he was never at the status he is now, where he could get drafted," senior shortstop Wyatt Reid said. "He's gotten to where he's almost unhittable around here."

Alex took unofficial visits all over the state before settling on the Gators in August. And though it's possible he could be looking at a potential professional opportunity before even setting foot in Gainesville, Alex said he hasn't given much thought about what he'll do if he's drafted come June.

Instead, he's just focused on and getting Alonso to the playoffs — a place it hasn't been since Jose Fernandez, a Miami Marlin and last year's National League Rookie of the Year, led the Ravens to the 6A state championship in 2011.

As for the attention he's getting personally? Just like his presence on the mound, his father says, Alex stays cool.

"It's nice, but I don't really care that much," he said. "I just do my thing."

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