Toronto picks Tiedemann, loads up on arms

July 12th, 2021

The Blue Jays had to wait a while to start Day 2 of the MLB Draft as they entered without a second-round pick, which was lost after they signed George Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal this past offseason, but there was still plenty of work accomplished in Rounds 3-10.

Toronto opened the Draft on Sunday by selecting right-hander Gunnar Hoglund out of Mississippi with the No. 19 overall pick. Originally projected as a top 10 pick, Hoglund underwent Tommy John surgery in May and isn't expected to make his pro debut until some point next season. Here's a look at what the Blue Jays did on Day 2:

Round 3, 91st overall: Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Golden West College (Calif.)

Notable Skill: Tiedemann’s physical build and natural athleticism gives the Blue Jays plenty to dream on as the 18-year-old continues to mature. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Tiedemann’s fastball sits in the low-90s and has touched 94 mph recently. If he can continue to build on that through his age-19 and 20 seasons, especially from the left side, there’s plenty of projection for the Blue Jays to work with. MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo said Monday that “he reminds me a lot of Sean Manaea.”

That fastball, which sets up a nice changeup, helped Tiedemann to 60 strikeouts over just 38 innings this season. He pitched to a 3.55 ERA, and while these JUCO numbers require a bit of projection, the Blue Jays like the potential they see in Tiedemann, especially given his age. Tiedemann rose into MLB’s Top 100 Draft prospects ahead of the 2020 Draft, but he was not selected in the five rounds and eventually changed his commitment from San Diego State to take the junior college route, allowing him to be eligible again this year.

Fun Fact: It’s not a Blue Jays Draft until someone is selected with family ties to pro ball. Ricky’s older brother, Tai, was an eighth-round pick of the Rangers back in 2016 and is currently pitching for their High-A affiliate in Hickory, N.C.. Tai has told the younger Tiedemann brother about what to expect at the junior college level and the lower levels of professional ball, which Ricky feels has helped prepare him mentally.

Quotable: “I’m working on all aspects of my game,” Tiedemann told The562 in Long Beach. “I want to boost it up so there’s not as much of a doubt as there was last year. All of these guys want to see more out of me, how far I can get into games and my pitches. I definitely feel like I’ve improved on that since the last Draft, so I think it’s going to benefit me.”

Round 4, 121st overall: Chad Dallas, RHP, Tennessee

Notable Skill: Dallas added a cutter recently and it quickly became his best pitch, giving right-handed hitters fits. That pitch sits in the mid-80s behind his fastball, which sits 90-94 mph but has touched 98 mph. At 5-foot-11 and 206 pounds, Dallas doesn’t have the traditional starter’s build, but when the University of Tennessee recruited him as a reliever, he quickly pitched his way to being the program’s No. 1 starter. Dallas put up a 4.19 ERA this season, striking out 122 batters with just 20 walks over 103 innings, showing strong control of the zone. His secondary pitches will need to catch up, but that cutter has loads of potential.

Fun Fact: His nickname is “Cheese.” Dallas’ brother, Jack, is a pitcher at Lamar University and his father, Tony, played baseball at Panola College. In high school with West Orange-Stark, Dallas won consecutive Class 4A state championship games.

Quotable: When Dallas arrived at Tennessee, two of his teammates -- Connor Pavolony and Evan Russell -- didn’t think he was a pitcher. Instead, they admitted to him later that they first thought he was a catcher, as Dallas told Knox News.

“Size is for the eyes, wins are for the stats,” Dallas said.

Round 5, 152nd overall: Irv Carter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Notable Skill: Carter’s arm strength shines with a fastball that hits 94 mph, but given his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame at just 18 years old, it’s possible there’s still more velocity to come. He complements that well with a strong low-80s slider.

Carter pitched behind Andrew Painter, who went No. 13 overall to the Phillies, at Calvary Christian, and Carter has a commitment to pitch at the University of Miami. This could be a situation where the Blue Jays have to go above the pick’s slot value to sign Carter. He reminds some of right-hander Touki Toussaint, a first-round pick of Arizona in 2014.

Quotable: “There’s no one-two. They’re one-one to me,” Calvary Christian head coach Gil Morales told the Sun Sentinel about Carter and Painter. “There’s not a one-two punch. It’s heaven and Earth. They both can beat anybody in the country.”

Round 6, 182nd overall: Hayden Juenger, RHP, Missouri State

Notable Skill: Juenger comes as a true bullpen arm with experience closing games at the NCAA level, picking up 10 saves over the past two seasons. In 2021, Juenger posted a 3.86 ERA with 31 strikeouts over 21 innings, throwing a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 98 mph.

Fun Fact: The Blue Jays have drafted players from Missouri State a couple of times in recent years, going back to 2018 with 11th-round outfielder Hunter Steinmetz. In 2015, the Blue Jays used their first-round selection (29th overall) on right-hander Jon Harris.

Quotable: “Hopefully it’s in God’s plans that I can play professional baseball,” Juenger said in “The Pursuit,” a short documentary on his leadup to the MLB Draft. “I want to be a light to kids and bring joy to people and show everybody why I’m playing.”

Round 7, 212th overall: Jaden Rudd, OF, A. Crawford Mosley High School (Lynn Haven, Fla.)

Notable Skill: Rudd is a talented two-way player, starring for his high school as a left-handed pitcher and outfielder, though he was drafted as an outfielder. Rudd helped lead the Dolphins to a 2021 5A state championship in Florida.

Quotable: There will obviously be a question of whether Rudd heads to Notre Dame or signs with the Blue Jays, but the 18-year-old did his best to keep his focus on the field over the past year.

“I’ve tried not to worry about that at all this season,” Rudd told WJHG in Florida. “I just went out there and played. It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. I’ll just see where the cards fall and evaluate it when the time comes.”

Round 8, 242nd overall: Hunter Gregory, RHP, Old Dominion

Notable Skill: A starter at Old Dominion, Gregory could have some reliever potential in pro ball with a fastball that sits in the 90-93 mph range and a cutter that gives him a strong two-pitch mix. That’s allowed him to be successful at the college level, putting up a 2.95 ERA in 2021 with 88 strikeouts over 79 1/3 innings.

Fun Fact: According to Old Dominion’s player profile of Gregory, his father used to drive the famous “Grave Digger” monster truck.

Round 9, 272nd overall: Conor Larkin, RHP, Penn State

Notable Skill: Larkin comes with a heavy mid-90s fastball as his primary pitch, along with a slider and changeup. The right-hander looked great in limited work in 2020, putting up a 1.69 ERA over his four starts, but he saw his ERA climb to 5.09 in 2021 while striking out 69 over 63 2/3 innings.

Quotable: Larkin had a very close relationship with Bailey Dees and Kyle Virbitsky, the three of them forming the top of Penn State’s rotation in 2021 after arriving at the school together in 2017.

“I can see I’m a better player just from being around them,” Larkin told The Daily Collegian. “We try to beat each other -- that’s what makes it fun. Just having that competitive spirit between us three has pushed us to limits to where I never thought I could be pushed before.”

Round 10, 302nd overall: Connor Cooke, RHP, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Notable Skill: Cooke can crank his fastball up to 98 mph, which will be his main attraction as he enters pro ball. This helped him to a very productive final season for the Ragin' Cajuns, posting a 2.03 ERA with 90 strikeouts over 79 2/3 innings.

Fun Fact: Cooke’s pitching coach in college was former Blue Jays closer and two-time MLB All-Star B.J. Ryan, who recorded 75 saves while pitching for Toronto from 2006-09.

Quotable: “At the beginning of the season, I feel like I put too much pressure on myself,” Cooke told ESPN 1420. “B.J. told me something in the bullpen today, just, ‘You have nothing to lose and you have everything to gain.’ When I started taking that pretty seriously, things started [improving] for me.”