With the their third round pick in the 2021 Draft, the Blue Jays selected LHP Ricky Tiedemann 91st overall from Golden West College, a junior college in California. His brother Tai is in the Rangers farm system, a 6’6” RHP who was an 8th rounder in 2016 also out of junior college in California.
Few draftees were likely more adversely in baseball terms affected by the circumstances of 2020 than Tiedemann, between his senior high school season getting shutdown as he and the draft being shortened to just five rounds. Over the previous summer, he had grown a couple inches and added velocity, into the low-90s, the classic high school projection profile that generates helium and draft interest.
That was only aided by a strong showing at a premium showcase tournament, the WWBA in Jupiter, Florida in October. But all that momentum came to a sudden halt, compounded by the shorter draft squeezing players with rising abilities in favour of players who had established more of a baseline. He ended up decommitting from San Diego State in favour of the junior college route, transferring again when his first choice cancelled its baseball program.
In the last year, Tiedemann was not surprisingly filled out, from 6’4”/195 to a listed 220. The hope would be that continues, and he achieves further velocity gains from sitting in the low-80s, to go with feel for a change-up and slider. This is a clearly a development project for the Jays, starting with more consistency, but the basic building blocks are there for big league impact.
Since the beginning of the Shapiro/Atkins regime for the 2016 Draft, the Jays have taken two junior college pitchers in the top 10 rounds (and none beyond with bonuses that counted against the pool): Kyle Weatherly (8th round, 2016) and Nate Pearson (1st round, 2017). Both of those were juniors just shy of 22 years old, differentiating them from other college players only in where they played. Not only does this break new ground in that respect, but to the extent Tiedemann is somewhat akin to a high school draft pick, the Jays have been averse to drafting them as well.
The slot value for the 91dt pick is $650K, and it wouldn’t be surprising if took well overslot dolars to sign him, given reasonable Day One potential last year, and rankings as high as 68th on Fangraphs Board. Lacking a second round pick, it’s a nice upside play where if all goes well the Jays could find themselves with a player who would go in the first round as a college junior.