Welcome to the Ricky Tiedemann update, a weekly look around the Blue Jays system.
Buffalo: 14-10, 1st IL East
New Hampshire 10-11, 3rd EL Northeast
Vancouver 10-9, 2nd NWL
Dunedin. 7-14, 6th FSL West
WHO’s HOT. …..over the past seven days
End of April Leaders
Pitching stats among qualifiers.
PLAYERS OF THE MONTH
Tanner Morris, New Hampshire: .311/.468/.541
Ricky Tiedemann, Dunedin: 3-0, 0.90 ERA, 20IP/5H/10BB/33K
LINES OF THE WEEK
Ricky being Ricky…….
The left hander continued his mastery of Florida State League hitters Friday night, tossing five perfect innings. Tiedemann’s velo is a thing of beauty all by itself:
Even when he slipped, Tiedemann still held sway over Bradenton hitters:
What’s next for Tiedemann? Is it time for him to learn about loonies, twonies, bagged milk, and the lack of ESPN on cable in Vancouver? See below.
Sem Robberse had possibly the best start of his young career against Hillsboro Tuesday night. The 20 year old mixed his pitches and location, and pounded the bottom of the strike zone to record a phenomenal 11 ground ball outs. Robberse does not light up the radar gun, sitting in the low 90s, but there’s still room for projection. His sinker is a bat-dodging bowling ball of a pitch that’s extremely tough for hitters to square up. If the Blue Jays are looking to add a key piece at the trade deadline, Robberse will be a player most teams will be asking about after Tiedemann.
Yosver Zulueta made a triumphant return to competition with a rehab stint in Dunedin on Thursday night. The 2019 IFA from Cuba underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020, and his 2021 ended after all of three pitches last April when he tore up his knee.
Zulueta sat 95-97 with his sinker, touching 98. Our good friend Brayden Bouchey, who was part of his hometown C’s 2017 championship team, offered this insight about Zulu:
He needs to work on the arm action of his curve, but there is no doubt about its spin.
Zulueta is currently on Vancouver’s injured list, and it’s not hard to envision him there before long.
Dahian (say “Di-Ann”) Santos is an undersized RHP that we’ve long been interested in having eyes on. His numbers as a pro have not lived up the the hype that surrounded him when he signed as an IFA, but he turned in a fine relief effort for Dunedin on Sunday:
Trent Palmer, he of the two seven inning no-hitters in Low A last year, has had an uneven start to the season, but he tossed six perfect innings on Sunday, getting outs on 6 of 7 balls in play via the groundout. Toss in 8 Ks for good measure, and you have a lot of missed bats and weak contact.
The C’s lost three games in ugly walkoff fashion this past week….
Thursday on a soggy Oregon night.
Saturday….ok, maybe this was the bad luck part. But why weren’t the C’s guarding the lines?
The C’s 28 errors as a team leads the Northwest League by a considerable margin. Part of this may be bad luck, or guys learning new positions in the organization’s push to have players capable of playing multiple spots, but the C’s defence has left a lot to be desired.
No prospect in the organization seems to draw as many questions from readers as does Taylor, who has transformed himself from a see the ball/hit the ball approach kind of hitter to a guy who is a fringe MLB utility candidate.
Taylor had been off to a slow start Extra Base Hit-wise, until blasting a pair of long balls in Buffalo’s Wednesday double header. But what has to be encouraging for the Blue Jays is that Taylor is walking more and striking out less. In his breakout 2021 season at AA, Taylor walked at just over an 11% clip, and struck out 29%. He has dramatically turned that around this season, with a 20% BB rate, striking out 21%. Perhaps the unseasonably cool April weather has had something to do with the relative lack of pop, but the Blue Jays will take his close to .900 OPS.
Is Taylor a big leaguer? Perhaps, although his route to the bigs is blocked at least for now. Taylor can play LF in addition to 2B, and can play some 3rd as well. He may not have Espinal’s glove, but Taylor has power potential, and can steal you a base (30 last year, 8 already this season). He was left off the Blue Jays 40 man last fall, but if Taylor can combine his newfound patience with the pop he showed last year, Toronto will have to think long and hard what to do with him. Here he is on a heads-up play:
Another guy drawing some attention is the the Jays 6th round pick in 2018. Barger currently leads the Northwest League in hits, RBI, and extra base hits, and hit a no doubter in Hillsboro this week:
There is no doubt about Barger’s power. Former Blue Jays farmhand Ryan Sloniger told us Barger is one of the strongest players he’s ever played with. But with Barger’s power comes a fairly big swing-and-miss element. Barger’s strike zone is on the large side, and he clobbers mistakes. But with 4% walk and 28% K rates, there isn’t a whole lot of incentive to give him anything in the heart of the strike zone. AA pitchers will certainly exploit that tendency to chase, but if Barger can harness some of his free swinging ways, he’s another versatile guy with power potential.
It’s been said that if you want to get to Kloff, the time to do it is in the early going. Last season, the tall RHP gave up 43 of his 76 runs in the first frame. On Saturday in the nightcap of a twin bill at Hillsboro, Kloffenstein had his best outing of the season, a five inning stint that was marred only by a defensive miscue that led to a second inning run, the only one he gave up.
Kloffenstein has been his own worst enemy, in some respects. Last years, losing the strike zone caused his pitch count up and an early exit from a number of starts. On Saturday, he looked much more in command, relying mostly on his secondary pitches to disrupt the Hillsboro hitters’ timing. There is still so much to like with the 2018 3rd round pick. He repeats a clean, short arm action delivery, and gets a good downward plane on his pitches. But with the performances of Tiedemann and Robberse, as well as some solid work by Maximo Castillo at AA, Kloff – who is repeating High A – may have tumbled down the depth charts. Now, one start, heck, not even a half dozen make or break a minor league pitcher, but let’s hope this is a sign of more to come from the rangy Texan. Oh, and he fields his position well:
On Player Development and Promotions
There are many factors that go into the decision to promote a player to the next level, and it’s not as easy a process as you might think. Their on-field performance is just the tip of the developmental iceberg. Gil Kim, former PD Director and now Blue Jays coach, told us it’s much like a series of boxes to be checked:
It’s a collaborative decision that involves a lot of different inputs where thecentral focus is what is the best decision for this player’s development atthis time, and what it is not is one person making a decision….or a superimpressive stat line that just makes the decision happen quickly. They’re (player promotions) all thought out…….We factor in subjectively the coaching staff’s input as to who is he as a teammate, and leadership and ability to compete. We factor in the different departments, whether it’s player development or high performance, and their assessment of where he’s at in comparison to the league and the level, just where his technical skills and his tactical decisions are at. Also, his mental performance, his physical conditioning and his teammate leadership. It’s an assessment overall on where that player is at. Then you look at how he’s progressed with his individual development goals that every player has, and then we also obviously look at objectively where that player stands compared to the league, and if we think he can handle it.….
Blue Jays Pitching Development Director Cory Popham echoed those thoughts after Tiedemann’s electric performance:
It’s a combination of things. Performance is obviously important. If a player is doing well and has done that for a while, we’re not hesitant to push guys to the next level. We’ll look at some in game results that we find important and how their pitches have been playing as well. We can get a decent idea of if that player is ready or not. Another key component is discussing as a group and making sure he’s doing the off the field things well. Have his routines been good? Has he been a good teammate? Do we think he can handle some failure/struggles? Has his nutrition been good?
As fans, we can get impatient when a player appears to be ready to move to the next level. There were many cries for Gabriel Moreno to be moved up to Buffalo last May, but he remained in AA, likely bound for the Niagara Frontier by July 1st when a broken thumb curtailed his regular season. But in the case of Tiedemann, perhaps things are even a little bit more complex. While acknowledging that he’s likely ready for a challenge at the next level, the farm department has to factor in pitch and innings limits. Tiedemann pitched all of 37 innings in JuCo last year, and after one month of the 2022 season, he’s past halfway there after four starts.
The main takeaways from this are:
-is the player ready from a competitive standpoint?
-is he mature enough to handle failure at the higher level?
-is he doing all the off-field things he should be doing (working on his development plan, eating and sleeping right, is he good with his teammates?)?
Once all the various parties (PD staff, coaching staff, High Performace staff) reach consensus, the player will be on the move.
It’s always nice to share some of what others are saying about the Jays farm system, including:
-Brian Crawford of Jays Prospects wrote a nice piece about Jimmy Rollins’ comeback from Tommy John.
-Herd Chronicles wrote about another versatile guy, Buffalo’s Cullen Large.
-Mitch Bannon of si.com put together some top prospect notes: https://www.si.com/mlb/bluejays/analysis/blue-jays-prospect-notes-moreno-tiedemann-bargerhttps://www.si.com/mlb/bluejays/analysis/blue-jays-prospect-notes-moreno-tiedemann-barger
-Alberta Dugout Stories put out a good feature on a team from those days when the Pioneer League was home to as many as three AB-based teams.
-our man for all things Vancouver Canadians, Niall O’Donohoe, penned this good look at Trent Palmer.