The Blue Jays first base prospect was recently named to MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week
Rowdy Tellez just needed a little patience.
The Toronto Blue Jays promoted Tellez to the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season at age 21, but his early results were mixed.
In the month of April, the hulking left-hander hit just .164. and was beginning to raise some (misguided) worry. A quick look to the right of Tellez’s batting average, though, revealed an on-base percentage of .345 as he’d worked 19 walks compared to just 14 strikeouts. Tellez was seeing the ball very well.
“I went through a stretch in rookie ball where I think I went 2-for-75, then ended up hitting .300 that year,” Tellez told Craig Forde of MiLB.com. “So it’s not something I’m pressing. I’m putting good swings on the ball, getting good at-bats and sometimes the balls aren’t falling.”
Now the balls are falling. Or leaving the park altogether.
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Tellez added another pair of hits last night, and over New Hampshire’s last eight games he’s gone 12-for-28 with three home runs and eight RBIs. That’s good for a slash line of .429 / .484 / .857 and he has pushed his season line back to .210 / .338 / .412.
“He’s gotten better and better it seems every time we go out there,” New Hampshire manager Bobby Meacham told Forde. “[He’s got a] long way to go, but he’s doing very well right now and I expect him, when it’s all said and done, to be at least a Major League average first baseman.”
An ability to work quality at-bats between his bursts of power is what will separate Tellez from his peers. Heavy strikeout totals are a classic downfall of bat-first power prospects, but these 2016 developments from Tellez are encouraging.
Between the Lansing Lugnuts and Dunedin Blue Jays in 2015, Tellez hit .289 with an on-base percentage of .347. Maintaining that on-base tool should allow him to move more quickly towards the major league level as it will keep his offensive value afloat while his power tool matures towards peak potential.
Tellez only turned 21 in March, so there is a great deal of time for the Blue Jays to bring him along at their own pace. With the potential that Edwin Encarnacion departs in free agency following this season, however, Tellez represents the top long-term organizational option at first base.