Blade Tidwell, a promising right-handed starter for the University of Tennessee, will miss the start of the season because of shoulder soreness, according to Zack Rickens of the Knoxville CBS affiliate WVLT. There is no known timetable on when Tidwell will make his return, but his injury is not expected to require surgery.
Tidwell, who will rank among CBS Sports' preseason top-50 draftees list when that ranking is published next month ahead of NCAA's Opening Day, was widely regarded by scouts as one of the top collegiate pitchers available in this class. In 18 starts as a freshman last season, he posted a 3.74 ERA and a 2.65 strikeout-to-walk ratio while showing off an arsenal that includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss slider.
Tidwell's absence continues a worrisome trend about the 2022 draft class: he's the latest in a line of collegiate arms to suffer an injury that will impact their availability this spring. Alabama left-hander Connor Prielipp required Tommy John surgery last year, knocking him out of the running for the No. 1 pick this summer. More recently, Arkansas right-hander Peyton Pallette underwent his own Tommy John surgery, shelving him for the year. Both are still expected to be first-round candidates.
Add in Kumar Rocker -- the 10th pick in last July's draft who went unsigned with the Mets because of medical concerns and later elected against returning to Vanderbilt -- and the college pitching crop is now slated to be considerably weaker than projected. (Rocker, for his part, figures to begin his professional career this summer by pitching in an independent league.) Indeed, with Tidwell, Prielipp, and Pallette on the shelf (and Rocker elsewhere), the best draft-eligible collegiate pitcher appears to be either East Carolina left-hander Carson Whisenhunt or Mississippi State righty Landon Sims.