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Local Kid Makes Great

After the greatest month of his baseball life, Alonso High School pitcher Alex Faedo realized a boyhood dream

That greatest month of his baseball life included Faedo being named Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series.

The boyhood dream?

He signed a contract with the Detroit Tigers.

And his family was along for the ride.

When Faedo arrived in Detroit to finalize his contract, which included a reported $3.5-million signing bonus, he was accompanied by his mother, Kristie Donovan, a teacher at Davidsen Middle School and resident of The Bridges, and his father, Landy Faedo, Alonso’s baseball coach, along with his two younger brothers.

“A lot of amazing things happened in a short amount of time,’’ Landy Faedo said. “We’ll never forget it.

“It’s hard to imagine these things for any kid, including your own son. He has worked hard and it was great to see that hard work can lead to things like this.’’

Faedo helped the University of Florida Gators to the school’s first national championship in baseball. He pitched 14.1 scoreless innings as a starter in the College World Series, striking out 22 batters.

During UF’s extended stay at the event in Omaha, Neb., Major-League Baseball’s amateur draft was held. Faedo, projected all season as a first-round pick, was selected 18th overall by the Tigers.

The games were widely covered by ESPN and the SEC Network, so Faedo received wide exposure. After the final victory against LSU, Faedo was being interviewed on the field by ESPN’s Laura Rutledge, but he cut it short so he could participate in the handshake line with LSU players, then celebrate with his teammates.

That was a reflection of the pride felt by his parents, who said they were happiest because of the responsible, caring man their son had become.

Even in Detroit, after signing his contract, Faedo was still basking in the accomplishments he shared with teammates.

“I think the biggest thing is we’ll always be known in Gator baseball history for being the first team to find a way to win the last game of the series,’’ said Faedo who had 349 strikeouts in 289 innings during his three-year UF career.

A national championship.

Most Outstanding Player.

A first-round draft choice.

Such achievements are unthinkable for most players. Faedo, the kid with Westchase ties, was amazed at everything that happened, even though he entered the season with big-time status in college baseball.

He didn’t always have such a high profile.

His father remembers wondering if his son would be good enough to contribute to Alonso’s varsity team as a junior or a senior. He thought maybe – maybe – his son could become good enough to earn a college scholarship.

This was the kid from elementary school and middle school who everyone remembered being at Alonso’s practices, helping out and pitching to his dad.

The kid not only grew up, but he grew into a formidable player.

His father described Faedo as a “late bloomer.’’

Alonso’s program was already widely known as the place for accomplished players, such as the late pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was a first-round pick of the Miami Marlins in 2011 and became National League Rookie of the Year.

For a while, Faedo worked in the shadows. Then he began to emerge. When Faedo registered 17 strikeouts in a game, it suddenly dawned on his father. Fernandez never did that.

Things began to happen quickly and Faedo became a widely recruited prospect. He chose the Gators after developing a close relationship with Coach Kevin O’Sullivan and learning about the program’s accomplishments.

Now – after accomplishing almost everything possible at the college level – Faedo is a professional.

He has reported to Lakeland in the Gulf Coast League, where he will participate in everything but pitching this summer. The Tigers, conscious of Faedo’s UF workload that went deep into June, want to preserve his arm.

As for the future, the Tigers project that Faedo will become the type of pitcher who could be an ace. A rapid ascension to the major-league level could happen, but only because of his development, not a pre-arranged plan that puts him on the fast track.

Whether it’s the players and parents around Westchase or Alonso High, the Alex Faedo story hits close to home. It’s a tale of perseverance, determination and hard work that paid off on a national level.

At its core, it’s the irresistible story that everyone loves.

The headline might read: Local Kid Makes Good.

In Faedo’s case, the headline should read: Local Kid Makes Great.

By Joey Johnston

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