Blue Jays power-hitting prospect Rowdy Tellez shot up the organizational rankings in 2015 with a strong regular season and Arizona Fall League showing
Hon. Mentions Part 1 Hon. Mentions Part 2 #30: Freddy Rodriguez
#29: Evan Smith #28: Deiferson Barreto #27: Chad Girodo
#26: Roemon Fields #25: Rodrigo Orozco #24: Reggie Pruitt #23: Joe Biagini
#22: Carl Wise #21: Tom Robson #20: Matt Dean #19: Andy Burns
#18: Guadalupe Chavez #17: Ryan Borucki #16: Jose Espada #15: Dan Jansen
#14: Dwight Smith Jr. #13: D.J. Davis #12: Mitch Nay #11: Angel Perdomo
#10: Clinton Hollon #9: Max Pentecost #8: Justin Maese #7: Jon Harris
#6: Richard Urena #5: Sean Reid-Foley #4: Conner Greene
Rowdy Tellez. The name you love, the bat you’re about to.
The mammoth left-handed hitter joined the Blue Jays in round 30 of the 2013 MLB Draft, but it wasn’t for a lack of talent. After committing to the University of Southern California to play NCAA ball, teams steered clear of Tellez despite his status as one of the top raw power bats in the class.
Toronto took a flier late, and with a significant over-slot bonus allowed by their failure to sign Phil Bickford, they were able to tempt him into professional ball early. So far, so good.
Name: Rowdy Tellez
Position: 1B Age: 20
Height: 6’4” Weight: 245 lbs.
Throws: Left Bats: Left
Acquired: 30th round of 2013 draft
After a quick 2013 debut in the Gulf Coast League, Tellez saw time with Bluefield and Lansing in 2014 while racking up 267 plate appearances.
That season, his raw (and still developing) power tool was complimented well by his plate approach and contact bat. Tellez managed a cumulative slash line of .305 / .375 / .438 with six home runs, walking 26 times compared to 37 strikeouts.
The home run stroke came to life this past season between Lansing and Hi-A Dunedin, where Tellez knocked out 14 big flies across 103 games. Tellez also added 24 doubles and 77 RBI.
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His success continues with the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League over 21 games at season’s end, where Tellez stayed right around that productive baseline with an .839 OPS including four home runs. It caught the attention of the organization, as well, including then-interim general manager Tony LaCava.
“He plays the game with a lot of naturalness,” LaCava told Brendan Kennedy of The Star. “It’s not a cookie-cutter swing. There’s a lot of rhythm to it, much like hitters in the past.”
Rhythm is certainly the word for it, and Tellez’s development into a multi-field hitter with high-contact potential is just as exciting as his pure pop. Any level of diversity in his offensive talent will help to offset his value in the field. While he’s a fine fielder and took strides through 2015, a strictly first-base prospect doesn’t benefit from the same positional value boost of a shortstop or centre-fielder.
Tellez has received an invite to the major league spring training camp this year to let him dip a toe, and 2016 could represent a true springboard moment for his timeline. Touching the double-A level is always a significant challenge for power bats, as pitchers at that level have more developed secondary offerings. Off-speed pitches, especially.
His all-around feel for hitting gives me a great deal of optimism that Tellez will continue to thrive, however. And don’t forget, he’s just 20 years old.
It’s still early to have an eye too far down the road, but if Tellez surges out of the gates and establishes himself as more of a certainty, that’s going to factor into Toronto’s longterm decision-making at some level.
If there’s any level of belief that he can develop into a true middle-of-the-order bat within the next two-to-three seasons, perhaps that impacts how the Blue Jays view someone like Edwin Encarnacion. Though, the risk in weighing that too heavily is awfully large.
Tellez’s limitations on the bases and his lack of defensive versatility will keep a cap on his prospect value on some lists, but in the American League East and at the Rogers Centre, the match is near-beautiful. If you’re someone who picks only a handful of prospects to watch closely over the course of a season, circle Rowdy’s name in red.