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Blue Jays have a ‘million-dollar arm’ in prospect Ricky Tiedemann

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Ricky Tiedemann is currently the Blue Jays' main prospect.  (Photo via Mark Steffens)
Ricky Tiedemann is currently the Blue Jays’ main prospect. (Photo via Mark Steffens)

Every Friday is the same.

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As the weekend begins, baseball fans flock to the Nat Bailey Stadium, home of the Vancouver Canadians, or one of five other Northwest League baseball stadiums to play high-class baseball.

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However, when Ricky Tiedemann goes up the hill, the crowd gets a major league presentation at a minor league price. With socks tucked high, the southpaw struts his massive 6-foot-4 body around the mound with an air of confidence and elegance that far surpasses his 19-year-old pedigree.

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Its delivery is smooth; his serves are devastating, and Tiedemann repeats his dominance once a week. The Toronto Blue Jays prospect is already related to a major league player. He is confident, but never cocky. Tiedemann has described himself as “stone-faced” between chalk-drawn lines, meaning you never know the quality of his playing from his expression.

The fact is that Tiedemann has not yet had bad results in his first 11 professional starts. After blasting his way through hitters at the Low-A level, the southpaw got promoted in Vancouver, where he did the same, posting a 0.38 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 23.2 innings.

Tiedemann, selected by Toronto in the third round of the 2021 draft, did not make the top 100 prospects at the start of the season. However, with each great start, his hype grew. Tiedemann is now the fourth-best prospect for the Blue Jays and the 95th-best rookie in all of baseball, according to MLB pipeline.

Very quickly, Tiedemann became the Blue Jays’ most valuable prospect. However, for those who know him best, his rapid development comes as no surprise.

“I knew he was going to be something special,” said Ty Tiedemann, Ricky’s older brother.

Like Ricky, Ty has made a career in professional baseball and was selected by the Texas Rangers in 2016. As Ty increased his workload as a Rangers pitcher, he kept an eye on Ricky, his youngest of five brothers.

As Ricky progressed through high school and college, he turned to Ty for advice on how to deal with draft day and the transition to professional baseball.

“I kind of had a good idea of ​​what to expect when I got here,” Ricky said. “And it’s been pretty good for me so far.”

But the brothers’ relationship works both ways, and Ricky and Tai have learned a lot from each other. Now in his sixth season with the Rangers’ minor league system, Ty finds himself imitating Ricky, especially as the stresses of the game begin to mount.

“When you go down to the minor leagues, you mentally make your decisions,” Tai said, adding that he really struggled this April. “And as strange as it sounds, maybe I need to be a little more like my little brother, in a way, go there without caring about anything in this world. I just go out to play and let my abilities take over. Because that’s what [Ricky] extremely good at.”

The Blue Jays could promote Tiedemann to a D-A later this season thanks to the way he serves.  (Photo via Mark Steffens)
The Blue Jays could promote Tiedemann to a D-A later this season thanks to the way he serves. (Photo via Mark Steffens)

A key component of Ricky’s profile as a potential workhorse starting pitcher is his slow heartbeat and self-confidence. These qualities allow him to improve as the Blue Jays raise the stakes by promoting him.

“I’m a really happy-go-lucky guy off the field,” Ricky said. “But I know once you get in between the lines it’s really business and coaches are looking for consistency… Just really focused, don’t get distracted, just serve, play my game. I do this every time. It still works.”

While Ricky has a strong work ethic that gives him a solid foundation to stand on, his pitching mix is ​​what really sets him apart from other pitchers his age. Ricky throws a fastball and a slider like most young hands do, but it’s his incredible shifting sense that makes him such a weapon.

“When I was about nine years old, my ball coach taught me how to shoot [the changeup], and since then I have been of the same opinion; never changed it,” said Ricky. “It’s been my bread and butter since I was a kid.”

Sometimes other pitchers overdo it with out-of-speed pitching, squeezing the ball too hard and knocking it over. Ricky dictates the place and movement of his shift, holding the ball very loosely in a traditional grip with a circle change. His laid-back control of the offering is the envy of other pitchers – just ask Ty.

“When I started playing pro ball, people told me, ‘You won’t succeed as a starter or even as a long-range assistant if you don’t have a substitute,’” Tai recalls. “And I’m 20 years old trying to come up with a replacement, and Ricky is 13 years old, he’s been throwing it all his life pretending it’s easy.

“So given that this serve was his main serve in a pro fight, everything was just played on that. And it’s just a gift for him.”

With a secure kickstand in his back pocket, Ricky is able to drive left-handed attackers inside with a plus-fastball and then smash them with a sweeping slider. In addition, Ricky can switch to substitute against right-handed and left-handed pitchers if the slider is not working on a certain day (it will sometimes “twist off” the breaking ball, making it less effective).

Another important step in Ricky’s growth was the increase in his high muscle growth. The prospects go through “stages” of training with the Blue Jays. To stay free, pitchers have to do lower body exercises, mobility exercises, and even yoga, which Ricky now enjoys.

Since he completed his high school years, he has gained about 30 pounds. His new strength training regimen allowed him to engage more of his legs and glutes, increasing the speed of his fastball to 90-90 seconds.

The Blue Jays slow down Ricky’s progress in junior high, even though he successfully passed every test he was given. With the way he’s progressing, a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire seems just around the corner, although Ricky insists he’s only focused on what he can control and will promote what the organization wants him to do.

Ricky caught the attention of the baseball world no matter where he ended up by the end of the season – his numbers, his behavior on the mound and his unbridled talent made him one of the most promising players in the game. With so much baseball left to play, Toronto’s prized southpaw is just getting started.

“That’s incredible,” Ty said. “I always tell people, ‘I know it’s my little brother, but this guy is a million dollar hand.’ He’s a million dollar baseball player. And although I know that he is my family, I truly believe that even if he were not my family, I would say the same.”

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