Fast-Rising Blue Jays Prospect Ricky Tiedemann Talks Pitching

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Tiedemann is one of the fastest-rising pitching prospects in the game. Drafted 91st overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021 out of a Huntington Beach junior college, the 20-year-old southpaw not only finished last season in Double-A, he dominated at all three levels where he saw action. Over 78-and-two-thirds innings, Tiedemann logged a 2.15 ERA while fanning 117 batters and allowing just 39 hits. No. 24 on our recently released Top 100, he possesses, in the words of Tess Taruskin, “three potential plus pitches and front-end upside.”

Tiedemann discussed his M.O. on the mound and his power arsenal prior to Thursday’s spring training game in Dunedin.

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David Laurila: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher? Give me a self-scouting report.

Ricky Tiedemann: “I like to use the fastball a lot — I work off of that — especially now that I’m throwing a little bit harder. Throwing a lot of strikes is my big thing, just keeping it in the zone, along with my slider and changeup. I also try not to keep a rhythm that guys can catch on to; I try to mix it up and work backwards sometimes, starting with a slider and then going fastball in. But I do work with my fastball more than my other pitches.”

Laurila: A question I like to ask pitchers is whether they view their craft as more of an art or more of a science. How do you see it?

Tiedemann: “Probably more of an art. Different guys are looking for certain things, so you’ve got to attack certain batters in different ways. I look at that as an art form, and something you’ve got to be good at.”

Laurila: With all of the technology and data available in today’s game, there is obviously a scientific component to pitching. Do you delve into that very much?

Tiedemann: “I don’t look into the numbers too much. I let the Blue Jays staff and coaches look at all that for me. They’ll let me know certain things they think I could do better with certain pitches, and I kind of go from there. I mostly just try to go out and attack the hitters.”

Laurila: What are some of the things they feel you could do better, pitch-wise? Is it sequencing, which zones your pitches play best in…

Tiedemann: “Yeah, just off certain batters, and how my pitches are moving. Sometimes they want my slider to be doing something it’s not doing at that moment. That’s something I constantly work on, whether it’s them wanting me to change something or to keep it the same. There is the tunneling of my pitches — getting better at doing that — as well. There are all sorts of things that they want to improve on, and that’s what you want. You always want to improve, not just stay the same.”

Laurila: Can you elaborate on “want my slider to be doing something it’s not doing?”

Tiedemann: “Sometimes I’ll get into the habit of releasing it too early and it will back up; it will kind of pop out early, rather than coming through the zone and finishing in the lower right half of the strike zone.”

Laurila: I’ve read that you occasionally have trouble commanding your slider because it moves too much. Is that accurate?

Tiedemann: “That’s something I’ve been working on as well. We’re going to see how it goes during the season, and I think just throwing it more and more is going to allow me to locate it better. But yeah, sometimes I can lose it, just like you sometimes can with any pitch. You’ve just got to find it.”

Laurila: I assume a lot of it would be where you start the pitch…

Tiedemann: “Exactly. Where I’m looking to start my pitch… sometimes I do better throwing sliders against lefties, because I have a cue to go off of, like throwing it at their hip and having to come through the zone. Against righties, I don’t have that target. I’m trying to throw it in the lefty batter’s box and have it go in the zone.”

Laurila: What is the movement profile of your slider?

Tiedemann: “It kind of changes. Sometimes it doesn’t break as much — it’s a little inconsistent — but that probably helps sometimes because the batter doesn’t know what it’s going to do. But for the most part, it’s more horizontal. It’s more of a sweeper than a slider with depth.”

Laurila: Has that always been the case, or is it something you’ve developed?

Tiedemann: “I’ve always had a little bit of a sweep because of my arm angle. And my arm slot is a little bit lower, so everything kind of sweeps to the right with my breaking ball, and moves left with my changeup and fastball. Most of my life I’ve had a three-quarters slot.”

Laurila: You mentioned throwing harder. Is that from growing into your proverbial man strength, a weighted ball program, something else?

Tiedemann: “There’s a lot that goes into it, especially with the Blue Jays. As soon as I got here, I started taking everything more seriously when it comes to lifting in the gym, eating, stretching… everything. I could see the changes right away, and I’m looking to keep improving there as well.”

Laurila: You said that your fastball moves arm-side…

Tiedemann: “Yes. I have a little bit of tail on it, just naturally, from my arm angle. When I go outside of the zone on a righty, it will tail a lot more, and if I go inside on a righty, it will ride a little more. I have a four-seam that is usually going to move a bit.”

Laurila: How do you grip your changeup?

Tiedemann: “It’s just a circle change. I hold it with a two-seam grip. I put my fingers on the outside of the seams and kind of flick it from there. I’ve thrown it since I was seven or eight years old. I learned it from one of my travel ball coaches and have stuck with it ever since. I’ve kind of gotten comfortable with it and the way it moves.”

Laurila: One last thing: When you think back to the day you signed, are you essentially the same pitcher you expected to be? I don’t mean your results or how quickly you’re progressing, but rather how you go about attacking hitters and getting outs.

Tiedemann: “I’m definitely different than what I thought I’d be. At the time, I was a little bit more of a finesse guy. I didn’t throw as hard as I do now and kind of was looking to be a little more of a pitchability guy. But now that I throw harder, I can rely on the fastball a little bit more and get away with more. I can power through a little more.”

Laurila: Do you identify as a power pitcher now?

Tiedemann: “I think so. I can definitely power through some guys, but I can still pitch really well, too. I can locate my pitches and be a pitcher.”





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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radivel
26 days ago

Oh, Ricky, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind
Hey Ricky!

Pat Listachiomember
26 days ago
Reply to  radivel

Seamless blending of two large aspects of my life: baseball, and the Weird Al version of that song that my 4 y/o is obsessed with right now