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Conversations with the Herd: Ricky Tiedemann

By: Brian Frank

Ricky Tiedemann had quite a memorable Opening Day to the 2024 baseball season. It began when he took the mound as the Bisons starting pitcher against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

“It was a great honor,” Tiedemann said in a recent interview with The Herd Chronicles. “It was cool to be able to come out and see the fans for the first time on Opening Day and being able to pitch that day. I was really excited and happy that I was able to get out there the first game.”

Tiedemann fired 65 pitches in 2 2/3 innings pitched, allowing a run and recording three strikeouts. As soon as the game was over, Tiedemann and teammates Damiano Palmegiani, Cameron Eden, Chad Dallas, and Connor Cooke, headed over to the KeyBank Center where they banged the “Let’s Go Buffalo” chant on the drum prior to the Sabres 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

“That was awesome,” Tiedemann said. “It was really cool. It was right after our game finished. We had to hustle over there and get out there and hit the drum for the fans. It was a great experience. The hockey atmosphere is really fun."

Damiano Palmegiani bangs the drum at the Sabres game as his teammates cheer.

Tiedemann is currently rated as the Blue Jays number one prospect by both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America. MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the 28th best prospect in all of baseball, while Baseball America has him at number 22.

The left-handed fireballer uses an elite three-pitch mix to dominate batters – a fastball, slider, and changeup. He learned how to throw all his pitches at a very young age.

“I was on a pretty highly ranked travel ball team with great coaches, so I was learning all my pitches pretty early,” he explained. “I had a slider at probably about nine or ten years old, my changeup too. I kind of held them the same and they’ve been the same ever since. It’s worked so far.”

He throws from a three-quarter arm slot, which is also something he began doing at a young age.

“I’ve always had that slot since I was little,” he said. “I can’t even remember when I was above that. So, yeah, it’s something I’ve always done.”

His fastball sits between 93 and 96 mph, and touches 98 mph.

“It’s a four seamer,” he said. “I think it just depends how it’s coming off my finger. Sometimes I’m more middle finger dominant so it will bite. It will kind of sink. When I’m throwing harder it tends to sink a little bit. But I do get ride with it if I change up my finger pressure. It’s a traditional four seam, it just depends how I throw it.”

His fastball isn’t his only plus pitch – he also uses his slider and changeup to dominate hitters. His slider usually sits in the low 80s.

“It’s more horizontal,” he said. “More sweepy. Especially with my arm slot. I think coming from a three-quarter slot, it comes in a little more sweepy to the hitters, which helps me in some cases, especially if my fastball is coming out of that same level – it all helps to kind of deceive the batter.”

He throws his changeup in the mid-80s. His incredible feel for the pitch, which many young pitchers often struggle with, is likely due to the fact that, just like his slider, he learned it when he was young.

“I’ve been throwing it since I was eight or nine years old,” he said. “I’ve never changed the grip on it. I’ve always held it the same. It’s a traditional circle-change. I’ve kind of grown comfortable with it, especially in my earlier years, so that kind of helped out when I got to this level, just being able to have that experience with it and not really changing it too much to where I don’t know what I’m doing with it. But yeah, just trying to keep it the same and get good bite on it.”

“It kind of starts out over the plate, on a good one when I throw it right,” he continued. “It will start out over the plate and kind of die off to the left, my arm side, which is good against righties. Obviously, you want that fade so that they think it’s a tailing fastball because it’s actually dropping. Against lefties I try to use it as much as I can in certain situations. I tend to use it a little more with righties, but I’m looking to throw it a little more to lefties too.”

Tiedemann looks on from the Bisons' dugout. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

After graduating from Lakewood High School in Lakewood, California, Tiedemann attended Golden West College, a junior college in Huntington Beach, California, during the 2020 Covid season.

“It was obviously a weird time,” he said. “Nobody really coming to our games besides scouts. No fans at the game. School wasn’t really even at the school, it was more online. So it was just going to the field every day and getting that work in and then going home and enjoying the rest of the day. It wasn’t really a college atmosphere but I’m definitely very appreciative of the people I met during my JUCO year.”

He finished his junior college season with a 3.55 ERA, striking out 60 batters in 38 innings pitched, and was then selected by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2021 MLB June Amateur Draft.

“Draft day was uncertain,” he recalled. “I wasn’t one of those guys where they hit me up before and they were telling me I was going to get drafted. So it was kind of alright, let’s see if it happens and hopefully it does. It ended up working out with the Blue Jays in the third round. I’m very grateful for that.”

After signing with the Blue Jays organization, he reported to Dunedin where he underwent a rigorous training regimen which ultimately ended up increasing the velocity on his pitches.

“I was part of a three-group kind of camp,” he explained. “I was in the third group, where it was three guys and all we did was work out. We didn’t pick up a ball for about a month. All we did was work out and eat right at the facility. We got off a mound about a month later when the rest of the groups had already been sent to their affiliate and we got on the mound to see where we were at – and that was when I made my biggest jump velo wise and stuff wise. Just taking that time lifting serious, eating serious, and taking my mobility serious – and it all showed right away.”

After gaining about three to four miles per hour on his fastball, Tiedemann, at just 19 years old, rocketed through the Blue Jays system in 2022. He advanced through three minor-league levels during his first professional season, making it all the way to Double-A. He began the season at Low-A Dunedin, where he went 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA, fanning 49 batters in 30 innings pitched. In mid-May, he was promoted to High-A Vancouver, where he had a 2.39 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings pitched. He was named to the American League squad for the Futures Game, where he worked a perfect inning of relief at Dodger Stadium during MLB All-Star week festivities. In August, he was promoted to Double-A New Hampshire, where he had a 2.45 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched.

“It was surreal,” he said of his first professional season. “Just being able to go out there and play pro ball for the first time. I was hungry every game and it showed out there. I was fortunate enough to jump up a couple levels in that first year. I just have to keep it up and keep pleasing the higher ups and get to the highest level.”

The whole process of playing baseball in college, being drafted, and advancing through the minor leagues, hasn’t been completely unfamiliar to Tiedemann. His older brother, Tai Tiedemann, went through the same experience. Tai was selected in the eighth round of the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Texas Rangers and pitched in six minor-league seasons.

“Having a brother that kind of paved the way for you is great in general – but also just him being able to make it to pro ball and tell me the ins and outs of things, what to do and what not to do, how to come into camp. That’s obviously huge for me.”

On the Sahlen Field mound. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

Last season, Tiedemann continued his climb through the Blue Jays’ minor-league system. He overcame a mid-season left bicep injury and was promoted to Buffalo during the final week of the 2023 campaign. In his first Triple-A start in front of a Fan Appreciation Night crowd of 10,244, he faced a loaded Norfolk Tides lineup, including baseball’s number one prospect Jackson Holliday. Tiedemann got Holliday to ground out to shortstop to lead off the game and then struck him out on a 3-and-2 slider in the third inning. He ended up firing four innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits and two walks, while striking out six – including four of the last six hitters he faced.

“That last week here last year was really cool for me,” Tiedemann said. “Just being out here and getting a taste of the Triple-A level. Coming here again this year, it just makes me a little more comfortable coming around and seeing the stuff that I was able to experience last season. I’m still really excited about all the fans coming out here. I haven’t really gotten to go around the city much, so it will be fun.”

As soon as the 2023 Bisons season was over, Tiedemann headed to Surprise, Arizona, where he pitched for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He continued to dominate, winning the league’s Pitcher of the Year award. In four starts, he had a 2.50 ERA, striking out 23 batters in 18 innings pitched, helping to lead the Saguaros to the league championship.

“It was awesome,” he said. “Being able to meet new players and play along side new players was something cool to experience. Getting to know new guys and see what they do on the field was maybe a little different from what your org has been teaching. So it was kind of cool to see that and kind of pick guys’ brains, and to be able to play with them, and be able to compete with them, and then win a championship with them was really cool.”

Now just 21 years old, Tiedemann is back to start the season with the Bisons – and seemingly on the verge of reaching his life-long dream to pitch in the major leagues.

“It’s obviously super exciting,” he said of being on the cusp of making the big leagues. “I just have to stick to what I’ve been doing and keep doing my routine every single day. When I get that opportunity, I have to make the best of it, so I have to be ready for it. It’s going to be really fun.”


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