The Toronto Blue Jays have wrapped up the majority of their minor league seasons through the organization, leaving us a complete picture to analyze from each of the Blue Jays’ top prospects. If you’re a regular listener of the Jays Nest Podcast, you’ll know that I’ve been a supporter of first baseman Rowdy Tellez, now ranked the number eight prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline.
Tellez remains one of the greater value picks made under Alex Anthopoulos, selected in the 30th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft despite his consensus top-100 talent, telling teams that he was fully committed to playing NCAA ball. Recognizing the draft’s best left-handed power-bat still available that late in the draft, Anthopoulos’ risk paid off when Toronto’s inability to sign higher picks left them with the financial flexibility to lure Tellez away from college.
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Beginning his 2015 campaign with the Lansing Lugnuts, Tellez would appear in 68 games and work through nearly 300 plate appearances. He posted a slash line of .296 / .351 / .444 at that level, hitting seven home runs and driving in 49 RBI.
When we spoke to Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, voice of the Lansing Lugnuts, he made a point of saying that Tellez’s physical work through the offseason had paid off. This is a big boy we’re dealing with, but Jesse compared it to the transformation that Roberto Osuna recently underwent physically, shedding some unneeded pounds and seeing immediate results. This gave Tellez greater quickness in the field and on the bases, two areas of his game that he’ll need to elevate to an average level if he hopes to reach the upper levels of Toronto’s system next season.
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After making the jump to High-A Dunedin for the final 35 games of his season, Tellez experienced a slight dip in average but saw his power surge. He again recorded seven home runs at the level but in nearly half as many games, and drove in 28 RBI to go along with an .811 OPS.
Expectations were not shattered by Tellez in 2015, but given the volatile nature of power hitting prospects, his performance has been satisfying. For a player whose game is somewhat one-dimensional, though, the Blue Jays will look for his hitting tool to progress in 2016, where I would expect him to open the season with Dunedin.
Cautionary tales of Travis Snider and J.P. Arencibia will follow Tellez and his bat through the system, but it will be interesting to see which direction he takes in the short term future. Will his game tilt towards pure power, leaving him with 30 home run potential, or will he develop into more of a “professional hitter”, using all fields to support a moderate home run total at first base with a plus average. Something like Adam Lind did when healthy.
Outside of Vladdy Jr., who is still a newborn child in prospect years, Tellez is the premiere power bat in this system. This system that has been starved of impact positional talent for the better part of a decade, but alongside Dalton Pompey and Anthony Alford, that’s slowly beginning to change. With a step forward in 2016, Tellez could enter the back end of Toronto’s top-5 prospects.