Tiedemann draws raves at Blue Jays camp

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Blue Jays top prospect Ricky Tiedemann did some minor tinkering with his workout routine in the off-season and it led to some major results.

His stuff on the mound has drawn raves too.

The 21-year-old left-hander added more muscle to his six-foot-four frame over the winter. The extra mass has helped with daily recovery, Tiedemann said, adding he feels strong and ready to take his game to the next level.

“He has really good momentum coming into this camp, he’s obviously in tremendous shape,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. “We just want to see him pitch. We want to build him up properly and just see him.

“His stuff is pretty damn good. We’re interested to see how it’s going to play against hitters this spring.”

Left biceps inflammation cut into Tiedemann’s innings total last season, when he pitched 44 frames across four minor-league levels. He also spent time in the Arizona Fall League and was named pitcher of the year after striking out 23 batters over 18 innings.

Tiedemann said he increased his meal portions slightly and started using heavier weights in recent months. He incorporated more traditional lifts like squats and deadlifts into a more consistent routine and the benefits were noticeable.

“I think just having that little bit more size kind of helps you recover a little bit better,” he said Sunday. “I think right now it’s just a matter of loosening back up and getting into throwing shape rather than being as strong as I possibly can.

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“So it’s just that ramp-up stage (now) where you’re just trying to get as loose as possible for the season and then also try to maintain that strength throughout the year as well.”

A third-round pick (91st overall) in the 2021 draft, Tiedemann is Toronto’s highest-ranked prospect at No. 29 on MLB Pipeline’s list.

Players and coaches gathered at the team’s development complex to watch the southpaw throw live batting practice over the weekend.

“He’s got a booming fastball,” said catcher Danny Jansen. “Obviously, he’s got a good slider and a good change-up as well. So it’s exciting to have that arm. And he’s a great guy too. That combo is awesome.”

As tempting as it might be to slot a youngster like Tiedemann into the five-man rotation, chances are good he’ll continue his development in the minor leagues this season.

The Blue Jays have one of the deepest rotations in the big leagues with Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt and Yusei Kikuchi anchored in the top four. Alek Manoah is a good bet for the fifth spot with Bowden Francis, Mitch White and Yariel Rodriguez also in the mix.

“He needs to pitch,” Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker said of Tiedemann. “You never know if someone is big-league ready until they’re there and see how they respond. It’s a different animal at that level.

“But I do love his stuff and I love his presence, his work ethic and his focus. He has all the intangibles to be a great major-league starter and it’s just a matter of when that time is.”

Tiedemann boasts a high-90s fastball with a sweeping slider and change-up that can handcuff hitters.

“Everyone falls in love with his heater, (his) good breaking ball and his arm slot and all that stuff,” Schneider said. “But I think the change-up is a huge pitch for him. When you’re talking about a starter especially and getting deeper into games.”

Tiedemann said his immediate goal is to build up his innings and be a reliable option every fifth day. And he feels that he’s ready to crack Toronto’s five-man rotation.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I could,” he said. “But I mean it’s obviously up to them. I just have to make sure I’m doing my job on my end and be ready for when that time comes.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2024.

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&copy 2024 The Canadian Press


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