Blue Jays prospect Rowdy Tellez making noise in Dunedin
When the Toronto Blue Jays selected first baseman Rowdy Tellez in round 30 of the 2013 MLB Draft, it was a shot in the dark at a grizzly bear. The top left-handed power bat in the draft seemed locked in on his commitment to play college ball at USC, but when the Blue Jays failed to sign 10th overall pick Phil Bickford, their creative drafting strategy allowed them to reel in their slugger.
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Alex Anthopoulos tempted Tellez away from USC with a mammoth over-slot deal of $850,000, using the club’s newly-available finances, making him one of the draft’s top value selections. Now 20 years old, Tellez has been promoted to Advanced-A Dunedin and is creating a buzz.
In his first season of professional ball, Tellez scratched the surface in Bluefield before impressing as a young bat in 2014 which ended with a late promotion to the Lansing Lugnuts. Tellez kicked off the 2015 season with Lansing and did nothing but hit, posting a slash line of .296 / .351 / .444 with seven home runs and 49 RBIs in 68 games.
Earlier this season we spoke to Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and author of The Baseball Thesaurus. Jesse was quick to highlight that the towering Tellez had slimmed down from 260 pounds in 2014 to the 240-245 pound range for this season, which was doing wonders for his swing and mobility. He compared this to the transformation of Roberto Osuna, who wasn’t always the svelte reliever we know and love.
It’s important to ground ourselves and recognize that Tellez is a young hitter with significant growth ahead of him, but his potential is cause for excitement as it fills a space that has often been left empty in the Blue Jays system. Not only is Tellez a raw power prospect with quality plate vision, he’s also a left-handed bat.
As Jesse notes in the podcast, a challenge facing Tellez is becoming a more complete hitter at the plate. He can often become “pull happy”, trying to hit every pitch 500 feet over the right field fence. This should almost be expected from a ball player the size of an NFL linebacker out of High School, and will be part of the long-term plan as he’s moved through the Minor League system.
Entering Wednesday’s play, Tellez had hit the ground running in Dunedin. Through just six games he had already produced 10 hits, including three home runs and eight RBIs. According to Baseball Reference, Tellez is still 2.6 years younger than the average batter in the Florida State League.
The Lansing Lugnuts have been a springboard in 2015 with a powerhouse lineup that is beginning to climb the organizational ladder together. Under Anthopoulos, the focus has been placed so heavily on young pitching that we often lose sight of the lack of hitting prospects. On the current MLB roster, Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins are the only homegrown bats.
Scouts are often hesitant to rank 1B/DH types very highly in prospect rankings due to defensive limitations of athletic shortcomings, which could very well enter the picture with Tellez. He does, however, represent one of the Blue Jays’ most unique and tantalizing Minor League talents. Along with the likes of Anthony Alford and Richard Urena, the tides are turning deep in the system.
Photo credit: MLBProspectPortal.com
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