Blue Jays Morning Brew: Tire sculptures and Tellez


Toronto Blue Jays news and notes for December 31st, 2016

Getting tired of the baseball off-season…

Blake McFarland, a minor-league pitcher in the Blue Jays organization, was the artist behind a tire art project that you might have seen making the rounds on social media over the past couple of days from the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. Yes, seriously. Tire art.

McFarland, a recycled materials artist, constructed the mascots of Western Michigan and Wisconsin out of 500 tires, which took 300 man hours and 925 feet of tire rubber. Both weigh over 400 pounds each.

As someone who can’t draw a straight line without a ruler and an eraser, this is difficult to wrap the brain around.

“It’s an honour to bring together my two passions, tire art and athletics,” McFarland said in a press release.

In terms of baseball, McFarland missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing shoulder surgery but there have been no reports to suggest that he will not return in full for 2016. At the end of 2015, McFarland jumped on to the radar by being added to the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster.

Coming off a breakout 2014 and a strong stint in the Arizona Fall League, McFarland posted a 2.03 ERA between double-A New Hampshire and triple-A Buffalo with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings and just 1.6 walks. He’s no longer on the 40-man roster, but if McFarland can return to the upper-minors with numbers close to that, he could force his way back into the picture.

Latest on 1B Rowdy Tellez

Eyeing a spot on the opening day roster, Rowdy Tellez has moved to Dunedin to get a head start on spring training. Danny Gallagher has the story here for the Canadian Baseball Network.

“I’m ready to go into spring training and open some eyes,” Tellez told Gallagher. “I changed my body and I like my weight. I’m comfortable with my weight and my power. I wanted to get strong and lean and be comfortable and strong. I’m lighter than I was at the end of last season.”

Next: Prospect breakdown: The evolving swing of Richard Urena

Tellez has worked hard to get his body right and take the final step to the MLB level, something that several people have gone out of their way to make a point of noting to me in conversations over the past year.

The logjam at first base and DH is obviously working against Tellez with Kendrys Morales, Steve Pearce, and Justin Smoak all expected to have their share. This could become even more crowded with the addition of another bat, but it’s also possible to look at it the other way, with Pearce primarily playing the outfield and Tellez forcing his wan on to the roster with Smoak at first.

Confidence and drive are not lacking for the 21-year-old who hit 23 home runs in double-A last year with a .917 OPS.