Starting on the mound for this edition of C’s Chat is 2022 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Ricky Tiedemann.
The road to professional baseball was not exactly point A to B for the 19 year-old Tiedemann. Hoping to be selected in the 2020 draft out of Lakewood High School in California, no team stepped up to meet his asking price in the COVID-shortened five-round event to convince him to turn down his commitment to San Diego State. Tiedemann also “broke his right, non-throwing wrist on a collision at first base late in the season” according to Baseball America. Despite that, the lefthander from Long Beach was ranked as the 80th best prospect in that year’s draft by the baseball publication.
“Few players raised their stock in limited time more this spring than Tiedemann…An interesting but hardly elite prospect entering the year, Tiedemann came out showing increased velocity and feel for his secondaries and put himself among the top players in a loaded Southern California draft class. Tiedemann is an elite athlete with a physical 6-foot-3 frame, big hands and a tantalizing left arm. His fastball sits around 88-91 mph and touches 93, and his projectable body and athleticism make it easy to envision him reaching the mid-90s once he fills out. He complements his fastball with a potentially plus changeup, and his average hard slider gives him a quality third offering. Tiedemann is one of the youngest players in the class and will still be 17 on draft day.”
Instead of being an Aztec at San Diego State, Tiedemann elected to go to junior college to be eligible for the 2021 draft. Originally, he was hoping to attend Long Beach City College where his brother Tai had attended (and was taken in the eighth round in 2016 by the Texas Rangers) but the college canceled all spring sports due to COVID. Instead of being a Viking, Ricky attended Golden West College where he struck out 60 batters over 38 innings with the Rustlers, winning two of three decisions with a 3.55 earned run average. His final start for Golden West was a complete-game shutout with 13 strikeouts May 27.
Baseball America rated Tiedemann as the 90th best prospect in the 2021 draft.
“Tiedemann has blossomed physically over the past year and now stands 6-foot-4, 220 pounds with broad shoulders and a strong, well-proportioned frame. With the increased physicality has come an uptick in his stuff. Tiedemann’s fastball now sits 89-92 mph and touches 94 with life out of a low slot that creates a difficult angle for hitters. His changeup is a plus offering he can throw at any time to lefties or righties, and it has the potential to become a plus-plus pitch as he adds more separation from his fastball. His hard slider has become consistently average. Tiedemann has lots of promising ingredients, but he’s still learning to put everything together. He underwhelmed at times this spring, posting a 3.55 ERA and allowing more than a hit per inning against subpar junior college competition, and requires a bit of projection. He is an excellent athlete who aggressively goes after hitters, but his arm slot can wander and make it harder to throw strikes. He’ll show above-average control in some outings and struggle to find the strike zone in others. Tiedemann is only 18 and younger than many players still in high school. Teams are optimistic his stuff will continue to grow and he will become more consistent with experience.”
Baseball America was just one pick off in its projection as the Toronto Blue Jays snapped up Tiedemann with the 91st selection in round three. The first junior college pick of the draft was given a signing bonus of $644,800.
In its prospect rankings of the Blue Jays system, BA indicated that Tiedemann’s velocity “hit another gear when he reported to the Blue Jays, ranging from 94-98 mph in short bursts,” as he went to work at the team’s new Player Development Complex in Dunedin. The publication also added he “flashes a plus changeup he has the confidence to use against both lefties and righties and a hard slider that could develop into an average pitch.”
Tiedemann was rated as the Jays ninth best prospect before the 2022 season but was bumped up to number three in its May ranking. The publication goes on to mention that Tiedemann’s “physical appearance and pitch mix have long earned comparisons to Sean Manaea“. He is also the top 2021 pick in the Blue Jays draft class after the trade of first round pick Gunnar Hoglund to Oakland in the Matt Chapman deal. The Jays did not have a second round pick as the result of signing free-agent outfielder George Springer.
After only pitching in fall instructs last year, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Tiedemann made his pro debut with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2022. He won his first start at home against Bradenton April 8 with five innings of two-run ball and eight strikeouts.
Tiedemann was even better in his next start in Tampa April 15 when he put up five shutout innings with eight more strikeouts to pick up his second straight win. He continued to raise the bar as he walked four hitters but did not give up a hit over five more shutout innings, punching out nine Fort Myers Mighty Mussels April 22.
What did Tiedemann do for an encore? Well, he pitched another five shutout innings without a hit and he again struck out nine but this time he walked nobody. He was absolutely perfect as he picked up his third victory in Bradenton April 29. Not surprisingly, Tiedemann was named the Florida State League’s Pitcher for the Month for April.
Two starts after that, Tiedemann got the call to Vancouver as he went 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA with a 49-13 strikeout/walk total in 30 innings with the D-Jays. He made his C’s debut May 20 against Tri-City at Nat Bailey Stadium and allowed two runs (one earned) while ringing up nine batters in 4-2/3 innings. On May 27 in Hillsboro, Tiedemann shut down the Hops over five innings, allowing just one hit and a hit by a pitch while collecting four K’s.
Tiedemann’s first win in a C’s uniform was June 4 against Spokane with just one unearned run allowed over five innings to go along with six whiffs. He won his next start in Tri-City June 10 as he scattered three hits and a walk while punching out nine Dust Devils over five frames.
Baseball America certainly took note of Tiedemann’s improved pitch-mix this season.
“Few players from last year’s class have burst onto the scene like Tiedemann, a 19-year-old who had dominated up to High-A Vancouver this season. He has shown the ability to miss bats, limit hard contact and throw strikes. Most importantly, Tiedemann possesses top-of-the-rotation stuff, with a fastball that sits comfortably in the mid 90s. He pairs his heater with a sweepy low-80s breaking ball and a double-plus changeup, his best pitch. He has a rare combination of stuff, pitchability and starter projection with his strong-bodied, 6-foot-4 frame.”
Tiedemann had his toughest outing as a pro to date when he pitched in Everett July 8. He gave up a two-run home run to rehabbing Seattle Mariners outfielder and 2020 American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis. He did retire Lewis on a ground ball to third in the third inning but it was Lewis who prevented Tiedemann from pitching five complete innings with a single to left that eluded a diving Damiano Palmegiani at third. Tiedemann did allow two home runs and four runs in total on four hits and four walks but on the bright side, he did strike out seven with his velocity ranging from 78-96 miles per hour.
Tiedemann will get another chance to test his wares against a high level of competition as he will join former Vancouver Canadians hurler Yosver Zulueta at the MLB Futures Game in Los Angeles.
C’s Plus Baseball caught up with Tariq Leni Tiedemann on Father’s Day. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
C’s Plus Baseball – Let’s start with the draft. I know it was quite the wait for you. 2020, the shortened draft, you did not get picked. I think a lot of teams now are beginning to regret that. Anyways, in 2021, how did it all break down for you at the draft?
Ricky Tiedemann – I mean, it was exciting. I had an advisor at the time that kind of did all the talking for me with the team. So I kind of just wanted to enjoy the process and just hang out with my family during that day. I was kind of nervous just because I wasn’t talking to anybody like person to person. So it was just hard to wait on it and see but it ended up happening, ended up being the Blue Jays and I’m blessed to be here. It’s been amazing ever since.
CPB – When did the Blue Jays make contact with you? Who was the signing scout?
RT – They had seen me, I think in high school, like very early on. They’ve seen me play and I kind of just got a little better over the years and they didn’t get me in the 2020 draft, but they ended up getting me in 2021. The area scout for the Blue Jays was Joey Aversa in Southern California. We’re still close. We talk every so often. I just waited on the 2021 draft and I ended up getting picked and here I am now.
CPB – Did you have a draft day party or anything like that?
RT – I just went out with my family at my house. After I got drafted, we ended up getting a lot of people together at my house and just kind of like barbecued and hung out. So yeah, it was fun.
CPB – You wind up at Golden West College and I know it was a bit of a circuitous route. It was going to be San Diego State and then I believe you tried to catch on where your brother pitched at junior college. What was that process like when you finally ended up at Golden West?
RT – I was going to San Diego State out of high school. I thought I was ready out of high school, but like I said before, I didn’t get picked where I wanted in the 2020 draft so I kind of bet on myself. Rather than waiting three years. I just took the one year in juco to go back into the draft and it ended up working out. I went to Long Beach City but COVID shut down (the baseball program) so I had to transfer to an Orange County School (where it was) a little more open.
CPB – Pitching at junior college. What was that experience like for you?
RT – It’s definitely challenging. The talent there is good. I mean, in Southern California (with the) jucos there, there’s a lot of bounce backs, a lot of D1 (Division 1) talents. So it’s tough to pitch against those guys but I got through it and I did pretty well so here I am.
CPB – Your brother went through the draft process. How beneficial was that for you knowing basically what to expect?
RT – Yeah, I mean everything he told me to expect, it kind of happened so I wasn’t really surprised by anything. The process was pretty simple, especially after what he went through. I was behind him during that whole time when he got drafted, so I kind of knew what to expect already. It was just fun to enjoy and just hang back with the family and just let it all happen. So, yeah, it was fun.
CPB – Your brother has pitched in this league, the Northwest League, when he was with the Spokane Indians. I don’t think he ever pitched here. I believe he was here (at Nat Bailey Stadium) but just never saw him on the mound. But what did he tell you anything about pitching in this league?
RT – Yeah, the first thing he told me about Vancouver is that the fans, (there’s) just so many fans here so I kind of was excited about that coming here and seeing all the fans compared to in Florida and the FSL (Florida State League). Yeah, there wasn’t too many fans coming out to the games but coming here and seeing all the fans. It’s just really fun to pitch in front of (them) and it kind of gets the adrenaline going rather than being in Florida. So yeah, it’s awesome
CPB – After you get drafted by the Blue Jays, eventually you make your way to Dunedin. You did not pitch last year but what was the process like after you reported to Dunedin?
RT – Right after I got drafted, all the draft guys went to Dunedin. We all met each other, met all the staff and everything. And a lot of the guys went to affiliates right from there, like early after we got drafted. But me and a couple other guys stayed back and kind of just worked out at the complex, the new facilities they had in Florida and kind of just got stronger, got a routine going. And then it showed right away once I hopped on the mound so a lot of improvements happened. So yeah, that all fell together.
CPB – The COVID shutdown. How did you deal with that? How did you stay motivated throughout all that?
RT – Right before the COVID shutdown, I had gotten hurt. So it was kind of like a blessing that everybody kind of like got halted instead of just me, but so it kind of didn’t happen. But during that whole time, I was just recovering from an injury and just getting stronger and getting back on the mound. My brother was home during quarantine too so we kind of had each other to work out with and throw with. So it wasn’t too challenging for me, but it’s still, I mean, quarantine’s quarantine. Everybody was kind of halted by that but yeah, I got through it.
CPB – The Player Development Complex in Dunedin. How has that helped you develop as a pitcher?
RT – Yeah, I mean, they have everything, everything you need there. Food wise, when it comes to your routine in your program, I mean, they had me doing all the right things. Hopping on my routine, I didn’t really have one coming into it. So as soon as I did, you could just see it right away. Physically I got stronger, my pitching got stronger, so yeah, it just all fell together pretty well.
CPB – Is there anything specifically it helped you with? Say your velocity, maybe a release point or tunneling your pitches?
RT – Not too much mechanically. I think mostly physically, I got stronger. I just didn’t lift that much coming out of high school or in juco. So once I got here, I started lifting a lot more and it showed right away.
CPB – Your pitch mix right now, a four-seam fastball, changeup and slider?
RT – Yeah. Circle change, slider and four-seam but my four-seam has a little bit of a run to it so it’s just a little bit of movement automatically.
CPB – Have you thought about maybe adding another pitch down the line or are you just going to worry about those three right now?
RT – Right now I’m worried about those three. Just trying to sharpen all three of those and get them all dialed in. I mean, as long as those are all working, I feel like I do pretty well as of right now but so right now I’m just focusing on those three but eventually I’ll probably will.
CPB – The changeup. That’s been described as your best off-speed pitch. How did that all develop for you?
RT – I started throwing that changeup when I was nine years old. My pitching coach in travel ball taught me so I kind of stuck with it. I never changed the grip on it or anything. I just kept throwing it and I kind of got comfortable with it so it’s just been the same ever since. And naturally as I started throwing harder, it’s been tougher for hitters to pick up differences in the speeds and everything so it just automatically just came together. The changeup has been working well too and so is the fastball.
CPB – How do you feel the slider is developing for you right now?
RT – I think it’s really good, especially when it’s dialled in. My biggest thing is just getting it in the zone and getting it where I want it to be. But other than that, the movement is great. I feel like I’m in a good spot with it. All it is is just throwing it more, getting more comfortable with it but yeah, I feel good with it.
CPB – And the fastball was up to 98-99 (miles per hour) in your previous start. Is that the fastest you’ve thrown?
RT – Yeah, I feel good, feel healthy. I mean, just going out weekly and doing the same thing is my biggest thing. Just trying to stay healthy and performing for the fans and for my team.
CPB – What’s your routine like now that you’re starting basically every seven days?
RT – So after I start, the next day, I usually don’t throw. And then Sunday I throw. Monday, we have off so nobody does anything. And then Tuesday, I throw a bullpen and then after that, it’s a light and then a medium day, it’s just light tossing and everything. And then just getting my recovery in the training room, doing all the right stuff to get my arm feeling right. And then come Friday. I’m ready to go.
CPB – In Dunedin, you got off to a terrific start. What a way to begin your professional career – five perfect innings. What was working for you in that start?
RT – Yeah, I mean, that was one of the starts where I felt like everything was pretty much dialled in – slider, change up and fastball. So that’s why I feel like I performed really well in that game just because everything was working, everything was going exactly where I wanted it to. And that’s why I feel like I showed really what I had to offer in that game.
CPB – Did you have a feeling it was going to be that kind of day? You can sometimes tell in the bullpen. I’ve heard of pitchers say ‘Terrible bullpen but great performance’ and vice versa.
RT – Yeah. I mean, in that bullpen that day and leading up to that week, I was really focusing on getting my slider in the zone. And so once we got to that start day, it was dialled in. All my pitches were working really well. Even in that bullpen, I didn’t really feel bad or anything about the start. So I just got out there and I was fully ready to go.
CPB – Winning the Pitcher of the Month Award in the Florida State League, how did you find out about it?
RT – We got in the clubhouse after a game one day and the manager Donnie Murphy brought the whole team up together in the clubhouse and kind of was just talking about some stats and kind of on and on he went. I kind of found out he was talking about me and kind of just said that I was Pitcher of the Month and everybody kind of like celebrated and I kind of talked to the team for a minute and it’s pretty much how it went. Yeah, it was pretty exciting.
CPB – I wanted to ask you about this about the Florida State League, the automated ball-strike system, the new pitching rules (such as) limiting pickoffs, bigger bases. How have you been able to adjust from going from the ABS to home plate umpires again?
RT – Coming from that, they’re putting a lot of new rules on us at one point. So it was kind of an adjustment we had to make. So coming from that to here, just coming back to a little bit more regular baseball, the only thing the same is the pitch clock. Everything else is regular. So it’s kind of calmed me down a little bit. When I got here, it’s kind of been a little more easy than Dunedin was just because you don’t have too many things you have to think about when you’re on the mound. So just going out there and pitching and focusing on the zone, it’s all I can do out here. So it’s been pretty much a little easier than Dunedin, I’d say.
CPB – How did you find out about the promotion to Vancouver?
RT – After one of the games in Dunedin, just sitting in my locker, just hanging out with my pitching coach Drew Hayes. He told me to go to the manager’s office because he wanted to talk to me. I thought I was in trouble. I don’t know why. Every time that happens, I just think there’s something wrong. So I go in there and he was just asking me like, ‘Do I want to leave?’ Like, ‘Do I want to get outta here?’ And I was like, ‘As much as I like it here, I want to see what I can do at the next level obviously.’ So he was like, ‘Yeah, I mean, because that’s where you’re going, you’re going to High-A.’ It was very exciting. A surreal moment just because you dream about that growing up. So yeah, it was awesome.
CPB – You make it here to Vancouver. What’s been like pitching here for you so far?
RT – Amazing. I think I’m doing pretty well. I love the fans here. Atmosphere’s great, environment’s great. So I just love playing here. I’d rather be here than going away, you know, going into Washington and stuff obviously just because I just love it here so much, but yeah, it feels great. I’ve been doing good, staying healthy and keeping it going every week.
CPB – Pitching in front of a full house. Does that affect you at all?
RT – No, I kind of been doing this my whole life, so it’s like, it’s just in my blood at this point. Anything that’s going on out here, I don’t really think about it. Just go out there and try to throw as many strikes as I can.
CPB – You’re joining a rotation, lots of talent on the rotation with Sem Robberse, a lot of young guys, a lot of talent. What’s it like being part of the new wave of pitching talent here?
RT – It’s amazing. Just getting to learn from all the guys. Everybody’s older than me at this point so it’s kind of fun to see everybody’s experiences when it comes to pitching and how they get through certain situations and kind of trying to learn from that. Learn from all the older guys in front of me and that have been here and been through games. It’s just my first season so just learning from them is awesome. Just picking their brain and seeing what they have to offer so it’s been fun.
CPB – Ross Atkins recently said you have the stuff to get big league hitters out right now. When you hear your general manager say, that must be really nice to hear.
RT – Yeah, it’s definitely amazing to hear. I’m glad I’ve been able to give him that impression through what I’ve been able to do on the mound. I’m just happy to see that and hopefully I got to keep it going, you know. I have to be consistent through a whole season just to show them I can do it through years to come.
CPB – Your start against Eugene (June 17), the best team in the league and you were able to hold them down. I know it wasn’t the easiest of four innings but how did you feel about that start?
RT – Yeah, I mean, my off speed wasn’t as dialled in as I wanted it to be. I kind of got squeezed a little bit here and there. So it was kind of hard to get ahead in counts for me but I did end up getting through it and not allowing any runs. So yeah, it kind of worked out.
CPB – And Davis Schneider made that huge play for you at second base (with a diving catch). You see stuff like that…
RT – Yeah, if that ball got through, it was just a bad day at that point. Nothing you can do about it if that one got through. So yeah, I mean, I felt good. I wasn’t throwing as many strikes as I wanted to obviously, but I still got through it, didn’t allow any runs so I’d say it was successful.
CPB – You’re pretty calm, cool and collected on the mound. How do you stay calm in situations like that? You had a bases loaded situation in Tri-City. A couple of runs (allowed) in your first start (at Nat Bailey Stadium) but you limited the damage. How do you stay calm through that?
RT – I think growing up, I’ve been through all the situations you can go through in a baseball game. That’s how much baseball I’ve played. I mean, when I get through these situations, I feel I’ve been here before and just kind of don’t really get into my head, really. I just go out there and I do the same thing as I’d do with nobody on so just kind of keeping it the same.
CPB – Final question. Your mound music. Going with Red Hot Chili Peppers. Great choice. What is it about that song you like?
RT – Yeah, I mean, it’s just a great song. I’m more of a rap guy but I don’t think a lot of rap stuff isn’t appropriate for like a family and everything out here. So I kind of just wanted to go with like something everybody knows and everybody likes and I love that song so I just kind of went with it.
- Uniform Numbers – Wore number 3 at Lakewood High School, number 13 with Golden West College and number 4 with Dunedin
- Instagram – @tariq_tiedemann
- Twitter – @TiedemannRicky3
- Mound Music – “Californicaton” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Thanks a million again to Ricky Tiedemann for this edition of C’s Chat and to C’s play-by-play man Tyler Zickel for setting it up.