The Road to The Show™: Blue Jays’ Tiedemann
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at top Blue Jays prospect Ricky Tiedemann. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. There are few players in the Minors who
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at top Blue Jays prospect Ricky Tiedemann. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.
There are few players in the Minors who enjoyed the type of meteoric rise that Ricky Tiedemann experienced in his first professional season.
Tiedemann entered his age 19 season as the Blue Jays’ No. 14 prospect and finished as MLB Pipeline’s No. 33 overall prospect, with only seven pitchers -- including one southpaw -- ranked ahead of him. The 2021 third-rounder saw wire-to-wire success across three different levels, ending the season with Double-A New Hampshire.
Overall, Tiedemann finished with a 5-4 record while maintaining a 2.17 ERA with 117 strikeouts over 78 ⅔ innings, holding opposing batters to a .149 average and .479 OPS. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound lefty showed off one of the most enviable arsenals among all pitching prospects, with a three-pitch mix that was described by Dunedin pitching coach Drew Hayes as “not fair.”
“My changeup was like kind of my bread and butter coming into the Draft. After that, I just worked on my breaking ball,” Tiedemann told MiLB.com in June. “I also gained velocity on my fastball. So, I think just having all those dialed in at the same time makes me a pretty uncomfortable at-bat with any hitter.”
Coming out of high school in California, Tiedemann was viewed by many as an early-round talent heading into the 2020 Draft. He went unselected in the pandemic-shortened Draft and decided to get his name back into consideration as quickly as possible. He withdrew his commitment to San Diego State to attend his hometown Long Beach Junior College. After Long Beach canceled its spring sports schedule, Tiedemann transferred to Golden West Junior College.
Tiedemann made seven appearances for Golden West, striking out 60 batters in 38 innings while maintaining a 3.55 ERA. That was enough for the Blue Jays to select Tiedemann in the third round of last year’s Draft. He eventually signed with the club for $644,800.
“Out of high school, I definitely thought I was ready to go. I felt like I could compete at the pro level,” Tiedemann said. “I kind of took a chance and bet on myself. … And it played out well for me. Got my foot in the door, so now it's just competing at this level. And showing that I'm worth it.”
The Blue Jays didn’t send Tiedemann to Rookie-ball after the Draft, but instead put him on a strength and conditioning program to pack some more muscle onto his already large frame. In addition to adding some velocity to his four-seamer, which now sits around 96-97 mph, the club also worked with Tiedemann to reshape his slider.
“The Blue Jays are a big sweeper org. They want guys to have good sweep on their slider,” Tiedemann said. “I was just working on that a lot. Just throwing it, honestly. The more I threw it, the more I had a feel for it. I didn't really try any new grips. It was just how I was throwing it and where I was releasing it.”
Those two revamped offerings alongside his already polished circle change immediately yielded impressive results. He lasted just six starts in the Florida State League after opening the season with Single-A Dunedin. Tiedemann allowed just six runs over 30 innings (1.80 ERA) while striking out 49 and holding opposing batters to a .115 average. In May, he was promoted to High-A Vancouver, where he was younger than everyone that opened the season on a Northwest League roster.
Ricky Tiedemann was so perfect tonight for the @DunedinBlueJays, even his slipups were K's. pic.twitter.com/284A08HcS2— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) April 30, 2022
Again Tiedemann stifled hitters for the Canadians and had a 1.64 ERA through his first seven starts. His first stumble of the season came during his final Northwest League outing against Everett as his High-A ERA swelled to 2.39 ahead of his Futures Game appearance.
The top Blue Jays prospect worked a scoreless fifth in the prospect showcase at Dodger Stadium and was rewarded with another promotion. Toronto didn’t have the southpaw report to the Fisher Cats right away, instead placing him on the developmental list until early August.
The organization was cautious with Tiedemann’s workload to finish the season. He completed just 11 innings in his four starts, with no outing lasting longer than three innings. However, he was still very impressive in his brief time at Double-A. Tiedemann made 10 scoreless appearances throughout the season, the final three of which came with New Hampshire and two of those were also hitless.
The Blue Jays will likely unleash Tiedemann on the Eastern League again to start next season. He never went beyond five innings this season and was twice lifted to start the sixth while working on a no-hitter – one of which was also a perfect game. Still just 20 years old, it seems that Tiedemann was right to take a chance on himself. He’ll be one of the most interesting pitchers to follow in the 2023 season, especially if the Blue Jays are comfortable letting him work without restrictions.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.