The New York Mets got a massive steal on Sunday night by landing Tennessee Vols right-handed pitcher Blade Tidwell with the No. 52 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.

Tidwell was viewed as a first-round talent who slipped to the second round due to concerns about his shoulder.

The Tennessee native experienced shoulder soreness earlier this year that kept him sidelined for the first month of the season.

A year ago, the Mets selected Vanderbilt right-handed pitcher Kumar Rocker in the first round, but they didn’t sign him due to injury concerns (Rocker was drafted by the Texas Rangers with the No. 3 overall pick on Sunday night). I’m guessing they wouldn’t have selected Tidwell unless they were comfortable with his medicals (though it’s unclear if New York saw his medicals before the draft).

Tidwell usually sits in the mid-90s with his fastball (he’s touched 99) and he has a devastating slider that will absolutely play at the MLB level.

Right now, Tidwell projects as a middle-of-the-rotation arm, which is something the Mets badly need.

New York doesn’t have a lot of starting pitching depth at the moment. The first-place Mets have dealt with injuries this season to their front-of-the-rotation starters (Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer) which has forced them to rely on some of their pitching depth. As a result, that pitching depth has been exposed. The Mets simply don’t have a large collection of young arms they can count on in the next few years.

Tidwell is a college arm who should be able to rise through the minors fairly quickly — as long as he’s healthy — and help the big league club. I could see Tidwell making an impact with the Mets as early as late 2023. The main thing he’ll need to work on is getting his body ready to hold up to an MLB starting pitching load. He’ll also need to develop another pitch with the Mets to be an effective starter.

New York entered the draft needing some college arms that can help sooner rather than later. Tidwell certainly fits the bill as long as the shoulder holds up.

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