2022 Draft Preview: Blade Tidwell (RHP)

KNOXVILLE, TN - April 08, 2022 - Pitcher Blade Tidwell #29 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the game between the Missouri Tigers and the Tennessee Volunteers at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

Name: Blade Tidwell
School: University of Tennessee
Position: Right-Handed Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6’4” 207
B/T: R/R
D.O.B. 6/8/2001

Scouting Report

With a fastball that tops out at 99 and regularly sits in the 93-96 range, Tidwell has the stuff to go high in the upcoming MLB draft. His secondary pitches include a plus slider, a changeup that generated a 39 percent swing-and-miss rate in 2021 to go with a mid-70s curveball that can be tough on left-handers. With all that upside, why does Tidwell project as a late first-round to early second-round pick? The all too familiar answer to that question is injury.

Tidwell got a late start to the 2022 season with a shoulder injury that has limited his usage. Having made nine starts, he’s frequently been used as an opener. He’s also made four appearances out of the pen. The injury hasn’t limited his performance as he has improved statistically in ERA, WHIP and K/9 over the 2021 season.

Prior to the injury, Tidwell had a reputation for going late into games. In a June 3rd start against Alabama State, he appeared to regain that form, throwing 7.2 innings of shutout ball, including seven strikeouts. In his subsequent outing, Notre Dame roughed him up for five earned runs in only three innings. Whether he projects as a starter and how teams view his injury will determine his status in the upcoming draft.

For an in-depth look at Tidwell, including video of his primary pitches, read Josh Nelson’s analysis from April.

Here’s a look at him prior to the shoulder injury

Why Would the White Sox Draft Blade Tidwell?

There are plenty of old sayings to go around to answer this question.

  1. You can never have too much pitching
  2. It takes ten pitching prospects to get two

Beyond the cliches, there are several other reasons Tidwell would be a good fit for the White Sox. In recent years, the White Sox have dipped into the high school ranks for pitchers. Couple that with the injury to top pitching prospect — Norge Vera to start the 2022 season, and the White Sox find themselves a bit thin at the upper levels of the minors.

In 2021, they drafted Maryland right-hander Sean Burke, who quickly made the jump to Double-A Birmingham. Davis Martin has burst onto the scene this year as legitimate big league pitching depth. Jimmy Lambert is in the major league bullpen and Jonathan Stiever is injured. There just isn’t much pitching depth in the system right now and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the White Sox load up in that area. Tidwell could take a similar trajectory to Burke, giving the club two options that could be ready for major league duty in the near future.

Mock Drafts

Blade Tidwell is basically all over the board in regards to mock drafts but he should come off the board sometime in the first 40 picks or so. In the latest mock draft at MLB Pipeline, Jim Callis projected the Tennessee righty to the New York Yankees at #25 overall but noted that his ultimate destination is “hard to calculate” right now. Jonathan Mayo previously had Tidwell being scooped up by the Baltimore Orioles at #33 in the competitive balance round.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN sent the 6’4″ 207 pounder to the Houston Astros in the first round of his mock draft. The Astros select at #28 overall. Carlos Collazo of Baseball America mocked Tidwell to the Brewers at #27, continuing their recent first round run on college players. Joe Doyle published Mock Draft 3.0 over at Prospect’s Live and within that projection, the Volunteer hurler ended up with the Arizona Diamondbacks at #34 overall.

Over at The Athletic, Keith Law recently put together his latest first round projection as well but unlike the others, he left Blade Tidwell out of the mix. With the fluidity of this pitching class and the sheer number of players with injury questions, Tidwell should end up going in the first round on July 17 but it could be within a wide range for any number of teams.

College Statistics

2021 SEC
18 G, 18 GS, 98.2 IP, .374 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, 34 BB, 90K

2022 SEC
13 G, 9 GS, 39.0 IP, .300 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 11 BB, 51K

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