Ricky Tiedemann’s spring debut with the Blue Jays lasted only two games, but it was enough to flash the enormous potential emanating from his powerful left arm.
The 20-year-old left-hander was among seven Blue Jays prospects who were reassigned to minor league camp on Monday. The move quashes any hope, however faint, that Tiedemann’s time was coming, that he could make the gigantic leap from the lower levels of the minors all the way to the big leagues in just one year.
Tiedemann has just 78 innings of professional experience. He threw 11 innings at Double-A New Hampshire last season, where he struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings. His fastball, coming at hitters from his deceptive three-quarters sidearm motion, sat around 95 mph and touched 98 mph. He combined that with a slider to get hitters to chase in the dirt. He was unhittable and rapidly rose through three levels of the Blue Jays organization, his star quality growing with each start.
Tiedemann got his first chance to show off that potential on Feb. 28 in a Spring Training game against the Detroit Tigers in Dunedin. The fact that he was scheduled to pitch an inning made it a must-see event, and he didn’t disappoint. He retired all three batters he faced, two by strikeout. His fastball averaged 98.3 mph, which would’ve led all starting pitchers in the Majors last season.
In his second outing, on March 7 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Tiedemann was touched up for his first runs, a two-run homer by Carlos Santana on a 340-foot flyball that would’ve been an easy out in the Rogers Centre. His spring ended with three innings pitched, three hits allowed, a walk, and four strikeouts. The Blue Jays announced on Monday, shortly before sending him to the minor league camp, that he was being shut down for a few days with left shoulder soreness. The Blue Jays know what they have and want to protect their precocious talent.
Tiedemann will begin the 2023 season in the minors, likely in New Hampshire, his inevitable Major League debut being put off to a still indeterminate date. If he pitches as well as he did in Double-A in his short stint there last August, he’ll rise to Triple-A in no time at all. After that is the big leagues. It could happen this year, or be put off until 2024.
Either way, Tiedemann isn’t looking too far into the future. “It’s always been that way for me, where I have to just focus on today. You don’t have to keep looking forward, just focus on the present. Get better today and the rest will unfold down the line,” he told the Toronto Star following his first spring outing.
The Blue Jays promoted Alek Manoah to the Majors after nine minor league games, but his situation was slightly different. Manoah was older and had pitched three years in college. Tiedemann still isn’t old enough to drink. He’s less than two years removed from pitching in community college.
Blue Jays fans got a glimpse of his potential this spring. Now it’s time to be patient until Tiedemann is ready to make that last big step forward. It won’t be much longer.