Blade Tidwell, a promising right-handed pitcher for the University of Tennessee, is regarded by scouts as one of the top pitchers available in this class. As a freshman in 2021, Tidwell emerged as a starter, finishing with 10-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 18 starts over 98 2/3 innings pitched. The ten wins that Tidwell got in that season are the second-most in school history for a freshman. R.A. Dickey currently holds the record for the Volunteers. He returned to the mound in 2022 while battling shoulder soreness. He finished the season with nine starts, going 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA in over 39 innings. Tidwell has the skillset to become a major league player one day. When the draft arrives, he could very well join Dickey as the only pitcher out of Tennessee taken in the first round.
Tidwell’s fastball is something else. It ranges from 93-96 mph. With some arm-side run, his fastball tops out at 99. He has an arsenal of secondary pitches, including his curveball. It shows good power and bite when he’s on top of it. As for his slider, it’s often considered his pitch. While it sits in the low 80s, the command of the pitch is there. Tidwell does well at his wide variety as he likes to start inside on right-handed batters, only to get them to chase as it breaks out and over the plate. As for his sinking low-80s changeup, it’s some nasty stuff. Tidwell generated his best strikeout rate of 39 percent in any of his 2021 starts. As for his curveball, it reaches the mid-70s and fools any left-handed batter.
One other strength of Tidwell is his versatility. He can start and come out of the bullpen when necessary or serve as the Opener. If the event of Tidwell becoming a starter doesn’t pan out, at least there are options available, thanks to his skill set. Tidwell should be a starter, and whoever drafts will have to try to stretch him out in 2023.
Tidwell has the skills to be a big-league pitcher. However, he’s a multi-piece arm action with an inconsistent arm slot. His velocity comes into question as to whether or not he can maintain it to pitch deep in games. The fastball’s velocity is there, but he hasn’t been able to locate where he wants the ball to go. Tidwell can throw strikes; he needs to focus on improving his pitches’ consistency and command. Once he is back to a full workload following his shoulder injury, there is still more room to add more strength.
MLB Player Comparison
For someone like Tidwell, who has an excellent fastball-slider combo, Carlos Rodón comes to mind. A former first-round draft pick, Rodón has one of the best fastball-slider combos in the majors. However, it could take some time for Tidwell to craft his game. Rodón took many seasons to develop into a starter with the San Francisco Giants. Despite Tidwell being a right and Rodón a lefty, they are both the same height even though Rodón is a bulker.
Matt Graves, Site Manager
Matt Graves is a graduate of the Radio Broadcasting program at Fanshawe College. Since then, he has worked as a writer in radio, journalism, and digital media. He enjoys sports, cooking, listening to podcasts, and collecting vinyl records to play on his record player.