After missing his turn to pitch at home two weeks ago due to a rainout, Cyclones righthander Blade Tidwell finally made his home debut against the Aberdeen Iron Birds at Coney Island.
Coming off a three-game winning streak, Brooklyn fans were anxious to see the N.Y. Mets’ second draft pick of 2022 extend the streak to open a new series at home. As an extra attraction, the Iron Birds had recently called up shortstop Jackson Holliday, the son of former Major League player Matt Holliday. Last year the Baltimore Orioles picked Holliday as the first overall pick of the draft and the organization decided that the 19-year-old was ready for some seasoning at the High-A level.
Initially, the Mets’ No. 9 prospect didn’t disappoint fans, striking out the first five batters that he saw over the first two innings. For those five batters, Tidwell put on a clinic featuring a 96 mph fastball to get ahead in the count and then threw a sweeping 86 mph off-speed pitch for the strikeout. In fact, when Holliday faced Tidwell as Aberdeen’s number two hitter in the first inning, he was completely fooled by Tidwell’s off-speed pitch that painted the corner for a called third strike.
However, despite his grand opening, Tidwell came back down to earth by giving up a home run in the second and fourth innings. Before being taken out in the sixth, he finished with an encouraging but mixed performance, giving up three runs on two hits along with 10 strikeouts. Despite his promising performance, for the rest of the evening the rest of the Cyclones staff could not fare any better and Aberdeen won 9-0.
“[Tidwell’s] a gamer, there was a reason why he was picked so high in the draft,” said Cyclones manager Chris Newell. “He will find a way to be successful since his work ethic is phenomenal. He is eager to learn and examines what he is struggling with. This is what the minor leagues are for. He looks at every inning as a new opportunity to improve. His fastball is electric and his off-speed stuff is there.”
Even Tidwell’s Brooklyn teammate Chase Estep at the beginning of the season said, “Tidwell is the real deal,” citing his fastball and ability to throw effective off-speed pitches. “Two years ago in the SEC when I was with Kentucky, I faced him at Tennessee and it was a real battle to hit against him,” the infielder said.