For his excellent showing in the elite prospect circuit, the Blue Jays’ top prospect (and baseball’s No. 31 overall per MLB Pipeline) is the 2023 AFL Pitcher of the Year, the league announced Saturday. The 21-year-old southpaw went 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA and 23-8 strikeout-to-walk rate across four starts, also pitching to a 1.11 WHIP and holding opposing hitters to only one home run in 18 innings.
Among pitchers who threw at least that many frames this fall, Tiedemann ranked third in opponent average (.190), fourth in SO/9 (11.50), fifth in WHIP and eighth in K/BB rate. His ERA ranked third among full-time starters in the Fall League.
Toronto’s third-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft out of juco Golden West College, Tiedemann broke out almost immediately and reached Double-A as a 19-year-old by the end of his first pro season in 2022. He battled biceps issues this season and, as a result, Toronto has carefully managed his innings. But he was electric at times back at Double-A New Hampshire this summer, racking up 58 strikeouts in 32 innings while pitching to a 5.06 ERA in 11 starts. He finished the regular season with one start at Triple-A Buffalo before heading to the Fall League to make up for lost innings and finish an ascendant 2023 on a high note.
Along the way, Tiedemann cemented his status as one of the game’s best prospects and proved just how close he is to helping the Blue Jays as early as next season.
“I think the main goal out here is to get deeper into games and add innings towards my year,” Tiedemann told MLB Pipeline’s Sam Dykstra in October. “Finish out the year and put myself in a better position for next season.”
There aren’t many more dominant arms in the Minor Leagues than Tiedemann when he’s healthy. The lefty combines power stuff with improving command and can put up videogame-type numbers when he’s locked in. Thrice this season, he pitched at least three innings and recorded every out of his outing via strikeout. On Aug. 29, he did that across 3 2/3 innings -- 11 outs, 11 strikeouts.
While rehabbing at the lower levels, Tiedemann -- with his mid-90s fastball, upper-70s sweeper and mid-80s changeup -- was nearly unhittable. And he missed bats at an elite rate this fall against some of the best hitting prospects in the game.
“There were a few obstacles I faced early on,” Tiedemann said in October. “I think getting through the shoulder and bicep area and getting able to get back out there and get comfortable again, I think that was huge for me, and I think I was able to do that towards the very end of the season.”
Tiedemann is the first Blue Jays arm to receive AFL Pitcher of the Year accolades, which began in 2021, but he’s the second Toronto prospect to claim AFL hardware in three seasons -- Graham Spraker won Reliever of the Year honors in 2021.