TORONTO — The buzz surrounding Ricky Tiedemann continues to build and the 19-year-old left-hander is doing nothing to stop it.

Just the opposite, in fact, as Tiedemann has come out in his first professional season dominating with Single-A Dunedin, showing off a 98-mph fastball as well as developing breaking stuff. Across his first four starts, Tiedemann has run up a tidy 0.90 ERA with 33 strikeouts across 20 frames.

Drafted in the third round last July with the 91st overall pick, the strides Tiedemann quietly made behind the scenes last fall after being selected are now starting to show up on the mound in game action. He’s almost universally seen as a draft-day steal already.

“We’re extremely excited about the start he’s gotten off to with all of the work that he’s put in since we got him, really,” said Blue Jays director of player development Joe Sclafani. “He just continues to impress and do things the right way. Obviously, the first full season is a beast and it’s an adjustment trying to figure out the routine of the everyday pro grind. He’s answered every bell on that front and, obviously, what he’s doing on the mound has been really impressive.”

If there’s anything to nitpick from a statistical point of view, it’s his 10 walks, but the Florida State League is using the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS) and that zone has provided a different set of circumstances for young pitchers in the lower levels.

You can’t quibble with the stuff, however, as Tiedemann has been sitting 95-97 mph with his heater, touching 98, while also throwing a slider and changeup.

“He’s exceeded his goal thus far with the velocity we had set for him. He’s filling up the zone with all of his pitches, the walk rate is a little high but who knows if the ABS is doing that,” Sclafani said. “At the end of the day, he’s just been overpowering.”

Up and down for Orelvis

With just 125 plate appearances at High-A under his belt from last season, the Blue Jays still chose to aggressively assign Orelvis Martinez to Double-A New Hampshire after he showed an ability to put together quality at-bats against big leaguers during spring training.

Now, we’re starting to see it was asking a lot for it to be a completely smooth transition.

Martinez continues to show emerging power with his lightning-quick swing, but the aggressive nature of his approach is catching up with him at times.

The seven home runs in his first 20 games are nice, but the 33 per cent strikeout rate has held his slash line to .211/.259/.526 so far.

“We knew it was going to be a challenging assignment when we sent him there, but he earned it,” Sclafani noted. “We’re really excited about the continual improvement in building his routine, the maturity, professionalism, and the defensive pieces are definitely improving. Lots to like on that end. The power is there and that’s not much of a surprise. He goes through these little dips when he bumps up a level. We saw it in Low-A last year and Vancouver and then he typically has a way of making adjustments and figuring out the league, so no one is pressing the panic button or anything over here. He’s a super young guy at a challenging level and there’s an adjustment period there.”

As he did during his first two minor-league seasons, Martinez has split his time between shortstop and third base on the left side of the infield, but he’s still expected to dabble at second base this summer, too.

Zulueta returns with velocity intact

Yosver Zulueta continues to be a name to pay attention to, especially now that the 24-year-old Cuban is back on the mound.

After his 2021 campaign ended in agonizing fashion last year when he tore his ACL covering first base on the first batter of the season, Zulueta made it all the way back late last month, debuting once again on April 28 with four shutout innings.

Not only were they shutout frames, Zulueta returned with the same high-octane stuff he was showing in the spring of 2021, as well. Zulueta was touching high-90s once again with his fastball, striking out seven and allowing just one hit.

“He looked electric,” Sclafani said. “He’s put in a ton of work to get all the way back.

“It was great to see him, first off, to get an opportunity to compete again, but the delivery looked smooth, he repeated it, he commanded the fastball. I think he was 96-98 and it was exploding out of his hand and both breaking balls he was able to throw for a strike.”

It can go any number of ways from here for my No. 15 prospect, but Zulueta could start moving quickly and likely won’t need to spend much time in Dunedin.

A bullpen name to watch

If you’re looking for an arm that could impact the Blue Jays big-league bullpen later this summer, it’s Adrian Hernandez.

Armed with an out-pitch changeup that was getting swings-and-misses from big-league bats during spring training, the 22-year-old righty has continued that in the upper minors, throwing five shutout frames for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons after an early promotion from Double-A.

With eight punch-outs and no hits allowed over those five innings, Hernandez’s changeup has continued to play all the way up the ladder. Even Sclafani can see Hernandez possibly helping Charlie Montoyo’s club at some point.

“He’s in the mix, man,” Sclafani said. “He needs to continue to refine things, but he goes out there and competes and guys have a hard time picking him up. If he’s executing the fastball and spotting up with that, it just makes the changeup more effective and he’s incorporating the breaking ball a little more this year just to give him another look. He just needs to keep doing what he’s going, he’s a bulldog out there.”

Morris, Cook start hot a Double-A

Two of the more impressive starts when it comes to position players in the Jays’ pipeline are in Double-A, where Tanner Morris and Zac Cook are showing two very different profiles.

But they’re both productive.

Cook, my No. 34 prospect, has hit five homers – albeit with a high 39.2 per cent K-rate – with a .405 on-base percentage, while also playing a capable centre field.

“The power’s there and he’s played all over the place,” Sclafani said. “He looks really good in the outfield actually. We think he’s just going to continue to get better.”

On the other hand, Morris is simply raking, leading the organization with a 1.014 OPS and showing an elite approach.

After hitting seven homers combined in his first two pro seasons, Morris has already hit four bombs in 2022, while also putting together a 20.5 per cent walk rate, which has led to a gaudy .333/.477/.536 slash line.

 The 2019 fifth-round pick is already 24, but he’s definitely one of the system’s early breakouts.

“It’s about as good of a start as you can draw up for him,” Sclafani said. “First pitch of the season, he hit a homer off the batter’s eye and it’s a testament to all the work he put in over the off-season. He showed up in great shape and bought into a lot of the things we were doing.

“He’s got the hitting gene. He knows what he’s doing, he controls the zone and he’s got a really good feel for the barrel. It’s really cool to see him let loose and tap into the power a little bit. Continue to build off of that and he’s going to turn some heads.”