2014 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects: #25 Rowdy Tellez
Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Next up on our list is another member of the 2013 draft class that at just 18-years-old possesses the most raw power out of any of the Toronto Blue Jays’ prospects.
Name: Rowdy Tellez
Date of Birth: 03/16/1995 (18)
Acquired: Drafted in the 30th round of 2013 draft ($850,000 USD)
High School: Elk Grove HS (Elk Grove, CA)
College: None (Had commitment to USC)
Height/Weight: 6’5″/240 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- 2013 High School All-America Team by Baseball America
- 2013 Rawlings 1st Team All-American
- 2013 Rawlings/Perfect Game All Region 1st Team – California
- Rated Blue Jays Best Power Hitter by Baseball America
- Ranked 59th best prospect in 2013 draft by Baseball America
Stats and Analysis:
It wouldn’t be proper to begin a profile about Ryan “Rowdy” Tellez without briefly mentioning how he ended up with his catchy name. According to Jesse Sanchez at MLB.com, his parents started calling him “Baby Rowdy” because he moved around so much inside of his mother’s womb. The nickname stuck, to a point that apparently his own grandmother doesn’t even know his real first name.
Tellez was considered one of the best prep players to come out of the state of California and is somewhat of a legend in the local Sacramento area. In 94 at bats during his senior season, Tellez batted .500/.608/.979 with 9 home runs, 16 doubles and 10 stolen bases. As a junior he was named a finalist for California’s Mr. Baseball award and was ranked as the state’s best sophomore by ESPN/Cali-Hi Sports in 2011. His jaw-dropping power led to several majestic blasts during his high school career, according to Perfect Game and local scribes at the Sacramento Bee.
Tellez was expected to be a second or third round draft pick but his commitment to USC generated signability concerns and scared off many suitors. When he tumbled to the 30th round, with bonus pool money left to spend the Blue Jays decided to take a chance and offered him a $850,000 signing bonus, which is the highest offer to date under the new draft rules for a player signed outside of the 10th round, according to Baseball America. Tellez agreed and the deal also reportedly includes an agreement that the Blue Jays will pay $270,000 towards future schooling (h/t Dan Elliott, News 10 Elk Grove).
The Blue Jays assigned Tellez to the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in July and slowly improved as the season progressed. He only had three hits his first 35 plate appearances but showed a good approach with seven walks and eight strikeouts. In August, he batted .271/.330/.438 and had two home runs in his last four games. He didn’t walk as frequently but his strikeout rate dropped from 23% in July to 17% in August.
I don’t want to read too much into a small sample size of data but Tellez appears to have a run-producing mentality at the plate. In 29 plate appearances with two-out and runners in scoring position, Tellez batted .308/.379/.500 and only struck out four times after setting an RBI record in Northern California during high school. His defense at first base also picked up as the season progressed as he played error-free baseball from August 6th on.
Video Credit: BullpenBanter.com
Tellez starts with an open stance before loading with a small leg kick. He keeps his hands high while loading and wraps the bat slightly around his head but puts himself in excellent hitting position once he plants his front foot. His hips and shoulders rotate well together and he doesn’t sell out by rotating his hips too early in an attempt to generate power. Scouts have said that his swing has holes and ESPN.com even labels him as a “softball player” due to his slow swing speed and they anticipate that Tellez could struggle as he continues to face better pitching.
Tellez was considered to be the most powerful left-handed hitter in the 2013 draft class and MLB.com rated his power as “plus-plus from the pull side” and added he has “an ability to hit the ball out anywhere”. The longest recorded blast that I could find for him was an estimated 462 feet during a home run derby in 2011, which means he was only 16 years old at the time. Home runs well over 400 feet are a regular occurrence for the ox-strong lefty.
Opinions seem to vary when it comes to Tellez potential hit tool but he has a relatively mature approach at the plate. If he continues to develop, both MLB.com and Perfect Game see him hitting for average in addition to his plus power.
Rowdy moves well for a big man but won’t be confused for a threat on the base paths. He played a bit of outfield in high school and is considered a capable defender at first base. However as a first baseman (or potential DH) it will be his bat that carries him to the big leagues.
Outlook, Risk and ETA
If Tellez fulfills his potential he could become one of the game’s truly elite power hitters. He is still a very long way from the big leagues but in a perfect world his unique combination of strength and savvy could lead to him putting up MVP-type numbers in the future. Realistically, his bat speed may eventually hold him back and a lack of athleticism means he’ll need to meet to the higher offensive standard set for first basemen.
Tellez will likely moved up to the Appalachian League in 2014 but there is a potential log jam on first basemen looming within the Blue Jays system. He has the raw ability to rise above the rest and his approach should serve well as he moves up the ranks. However there’s the risk that if his hit tool doesn’t develop he won’t ever realize his tantalizing power potential.
Considering the Blue Jays track record of bringing along prospects I’d estimate Tellez arrival date as 2018, with late 2017 probably being best case scenario. In the shorter term, presuming he’s assigned to Bluefield, I hope that he plays well enough to earn a promotion to the Vancouver Canadians to finish the year.