Ricky Tiedemann, the Blue Jays’ top pick, is making his first experience at a big league camp

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Ricky Tiedemann delivered the pitch to his target.

“There it is,” called Blue Jays ace Alek Manoah from behind him.

“That’s a boy,” said Danny Jansen, Blue Jays catcher, who received the ball.

Tiedemann, the promising leftist, drew a crowd during his side session under the covered hills of the player development complex on Friday. Among the usual spectators were Toronto’s pitching coaches and a few trainers. Other pitchers also paid close attention, including Manoah.

When Tiedemann finished throwing, he approached Jansen for the customary post-session hug. The two began debriefing and were soon joined by a couple of trainers from Jays and Manoah, who was seen gesturing with his hands while speaking to the prospect.

After pumping up Toronto’s minor league system in 2022, Tiedemann is in his first big league camp this spring. His invitation wasn’t just a polite gesture, either. He will be given the opportunity to play in Grapefruit League games and the Blue Jays are excited to see him continue to progress.

The 20-year-old’s chances of breaking camp with the Oberliga team will be slim. He has yet to prove himself in Triple A. But the real reward for Tiedemann over the next few weeks will be the chance to glean all the knowledge he can soak up from the major league pitchers he’s surrounded by, like Manoah, who can’t do that was long ago Time itself a budding prospect ready to break out.

“It’s my first year, so I just want to learn from them and hopefully talk to a lot of them and take what they have and carry it forward for my next few years,” Tiedemann said of the way he made his first camp is concerned.

Tiedemann, who was drafted in the third round – 91st overall – in 2021, started in Low A last year and quickly rose through the ranks to land in Double A. He had a 2.17 ERA on all three levels and hit 117 batters in 78 2/3 innings before being shut down on his innings limit. Tiedemann, entering his second pro season, is Toronto’s brightest young arm and was her only prospect on this year’s list of the top 100 prospects in the entire industry, including Athletics, where he ranked 47th.

Both Jansen and Manoah were aware of Tiedemann’s potential, but both saw the left-handed field live for the first time on Friday. Both described his three plus pitches as “electric”.

“The fastball comes out hot and doesn’t seem to be really straight, which is a good thing — it’s got some drive, it’s got some run on it,” Jansen said, adding he’s heard he’s doing about 96-97 miles per Hour reached the radar gun. “The action was great on his move, you could tell it was a pitch he’s always had. It’s a good feeling pitch for him. Then his slider was the same, it’s a good pitch.”

Throughout the bullpen, Jansen said Tiedemann wanted him to field in specific spots so he could work to fill the zone with strikes. “He had a plan of what he wanted to do with things, which is also great to see, especially for a young man,” said Jansen. After the bullpen was over, Manoah Tiedemann offered tips on how to hold on to his spots.

“His raw talent, it’s incredible, his stuff is incredible,” Manoah said. “That was the message to him, ‘Hey, your stuff is really amazing, let’s just create little cues that will throw you off a little bit more and just attack.”

Just two years ago, in 2021, Manoah had his breakthrough in the Blue Jays camp. That laid the groundwork for his major league debut in May of this year after just a handful of Triple-A starts. He has since become a pillar of Toronto’s rotation and has had a stellar sophomore season in which he had a 2.24 ERA and finished third in the American League’s Cy Young voting. Manoah sees similarities between his own rapid rise in the organization and Tiedemann’s.

“He’s the kind of guy that’s going to really help us with depth in the long run and is kind of like me, can show up and really make a difference,” Manoah said. “For myself, I know some people helped me in my first big league camp, so I just want him to know that I’m there to help him and that I’m invested in whatever it is he is trying to do and (to) get better. I look forward to him helping us.”

“He definitely shot through the organization very quickly,” said Tiedemann about Manoah. “It’s something that obviously every pitcher wants to do. So it’s very important for me and other pitchers to just listen to what he has to say.”

The experience of a first Bundesliga camp might seem overwhelming, but Tiedemann said he was comfortable in the environment. “Just get out there, have fun and keep cool,” he said.

In contrast, the 2022 season was quite a whirlwind for Tiedemann, going from Dunedin to Vancouver to New Hampshire. “It was a lot in a short amount of time,” the pitcher said, but he enjoyed meeting so many new people and took the cross-continental moves in stride by trying to treat each new level the same. He established consistent routines on and off the field, something he had no idea about when he was drafted. He maintained his strength throughout his first tour of pro ball, a challenge for young players adapting to the daily schedule.

Tiedemann’s talent on the mound is evident, but the Blue Jays were particularly impressed with his drive for improvement and the professionalism he has shown. He spent a good portion of his offseason in Florida training at the team’s facility, and manager John Schneider said he’s noticed how he’s taken to the camp so far.

“He’s recording everything, but he’s not wide-eyed, which is great,” the manager said. “[I’m]just impressed with him so far, not just with the stuff on the hill, but the conversations he has with the staff.”

After his breakout season, Tiedemann said he hopes to get deeper into games and maintain his consistency in both his routines and his on-field performance. Expectations are high for him and it’s not unrealistic that he could be in the majors sometime this year provided he continues to shine in the minors. It would be rapid progress for a player who served in junior college two years ago, but general manager Ross Atkins said it’s not about quelling expectations of Tiedemann, it’s about focusing on the process.

“And he’s just as focused on that as any young player out there,” Atkins said.

(Top Photo Ricky Tiedemann: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today)

https://theathletic.com/4225876/2023/02/18/blue-jays-prospect-ricky-tiedemann/ Ricky Tiedemann, the Blue Jays’ top pick, is making his first experience at a big league camp

Russell Falcon

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