Dennis Ryan Tepera – 22 years old, 6’1″ 180 lbs, from Lake Jackson, Texas
One of my biggest critiques about the Toronto Blue Jays and their draft history is that they seem to have a really hard time finding gems late in the draft. Well, RHP Dennis Tepera may be proof that the Jays do have at least some skills in finding the odd gem because he truly has the potential to make progress in leaps and bounds in 2010. Dennis was drafted in the 19th round of the 2009 draft out of Sam Huston State University in Huntsville, Texas, home of the Bear Kats. The weird thing is that when you try to find his stats on that squad, you’ll find him listed as Ryan Tepera.
I looked his stats up there, and to tell you the truth and only looking at those stats with no other knowledge, I’m not really sure why the Jays drafted him at all! He allowed 69 hits in 43 IP, while walking 17 and striking out 36 and had a 7.33 ERA on the season. Obviously one scout did his homework and had enough clout to get Tepera looked at more closely, because they did end up drafting him, and I’m positive they don’t regret it thus far.
Tepera was sent to the GCL after he signed and proved to be extremely effective. He started 5 games of the 11 he pitched in, was able to achieve 1 complete game and 1 shut out in the process, and finished the his short stay there 3 and 1. He only allowed 19 hits in 36.1 IP, only walked 4 batters to go with his 42 strike outs, and kept a tidy 1.72 ERA in the process. This guy lit up the GCL like a Light Brite and took names doing it. I know he was old for the league and that it could be an enigma, but the control over his stuff after such a mediocre performance in University makes me wonder how far he can take it.
At his age, it’s entirely feasible that the Jays could have him pitch a full year in LoA Lansing, but that has yet to be determined. Whether he begins in LoA, Auburn, or repeats the GCL in 2010, Tepera has surely got my attention and will get some more monitoring from me over the course of the season as a result. With the minimal innings he’s thrown each year (less than 100 IP), and the splits between the pen and the starts, it’s unknown whether Tepera will have a future in the pen or in a rotation – if he makes it up to MLB at all – but that should be more clearly defined after the 2010 season. If he takes off as well in 2010 as he ended 2009, there is a very good possibility that he could finish the season as high as in HiA Dunedin.