Part of a series of scouting reports on intriguing players in the 2022 MLB Draft. To read all the reports (including reports from past years), click here.
Blade Tidwell, RHP
|College||University of Tennessee (RS SO. 2022)|
|Bio||R/R 6-4, 207 lbs.|
|Date of Birth||06/08/2001|
Draft Expectation: 1st round or Compensatory round
Written by Brandon Tew
Blade Tidwell had an abbreviated 2022 season coming back from shoulder soreness. Tennessee, with the best pitching staff in the country, worked him back slowly.
However, Tidwell started to peak towards the end of the season and showed his potential as a promising right-hander with a potential plus fastball-and-slider combo.
Tidwell began his career in Knoxville as the Sunday starter in 2021 and posted a 3.74 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 98 ⅔ innings pitched in 18 starts. He reached double-digit wins with a 10-3 record, the second most wins by a Freshman in Vols history behind R.A. Dickey
Pitching well in an abbreviated 2022 season, Tidwell finished with a 3.00 ERA in 9 starts and 13 appearances, striking out 51 in 39 innings pitched. With two really good college seasons, Tidwell has set himself up as a potential 1st rounder in this year’s draft.
Tidwell has a simple windup and repeats the delivery well. With a tiny step to his left, he pivots on his back leg and brings his knee up past his belt tucking his foot behind his back leg. He then glides forward after a small gather as he straightens his front leg out for landing.
Releasing the ball from a high ¾ arm slot, he comes from over the top with minimal effort. This creates a downhill plane with his pitches, especially his fastball low in the zone.
The fastball jumps off of Tidwell’s hand as he lights up the radar gun constantly. He sits about 93-95 but can work at 97-98 often and has touched 99 mph at times.
His fastball is electric at the top of the zone and he’s able to create backspin and ride towards the plate, making it a menace to hit. In the winter of 2021, after a stint with the Collegiate National Team, Tidwell worked to improve his fastball’s vertical break to get more whiffs on the pitch.
Tidwell has a blow-it-by-them mentality with his fastball and when the shape is on and the fastball has good backspin, it explodes by hitters. The confidence in the pitch is really high and he goes full-throttle at hitters all game with his fastball and slider.
The command of his fastball is iffy at times as he sometimes misses with the pitch high and arm side.
While his fastball is plus, his best pitch is the slider. At its best, the slider can bend underneath barrels or sweep out of the zone. Tidwell has a really good feel for the pitch and manipulates it for a strike or as a chase pitch.
Here’s a look at the two variations of the slider:
The first slider possesses more tilt and sweep to it and zooms out of the zone away from right-handed batters. The second breaks less and is tighter starting in the same tunnel as his high fastball before dipping under the swing.
The two different shapes lead to a pitch that can be dominant when paired with his fastball. Tidwell could provide more value as a two-pitch reliever. He flashed potential as a closer or high-leverage setup man in MLB.
Whether Tidwell develops his curveball and changeup will be important in his growth as a potential starter candidate. He will get a chance to start with two plus pitches and a potential 50-grade changeup and curve.
The changeup sinks and has enough separation in velocity to get swings and misses. He does have a tendency to leave the pitch up but can induce weak contact choppers and grounders as batters try to cheat to his fastball.
Getting hitters out on the front foot helps the effectiveness of his changeup. Tidwell will need to improve his arm speed on the pitch and match it to his fastball he will also need consistency with its location down in the zone.
His curve is a work in progress and much like the changeup, he leaves it up in the zone too much. Tidwell uses it as a change-of-speed pitch and a strike stealer early in the count. He does get some swings and misses on it.
Tidwell cut his curveball usage drastically in favor of more sliders and the formula worked his sophomore season. In pro ball, just giving hitters the thought that he might drop in a curve with a nice break will go a long way. He does have a higher upside than most college pitchers in this draft class and that’s because of the potential of his changeup and curve.
Tidwell has all the makings of a big, athletic righty in the majors. He could be a starter, but may see himself turned into a high-leverage setup man or closer with his plus slider and fastball. How MLB teams use him will depend on the improvements in command and his changeup or curveball will determine
Ceiling: Mike Foltynewicz
Floor: Dinelson Lamet
Draft Expectation: 1st Round – Compenatory Round