ROWDY TELLEZ – 1B/DH
After being a 30th round selection in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, Tellez has done nothing but rake in the minor leagues. Tellez ranked as Jay’s Journal’s #4 prospect of 2017, spent the entirety of the 2016 season at the AA level, playing for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. In 438 at-bats Tellez smacked 23 home runs and drove in 81 RBIs, all while slashing a very respectable .297/.387/.530.
To go along with those great numbers, Tellez also boasted a great strikeout-to-walk rate (63 BB, 92 SO). Tellez, who will be turning 22 in March, has proven he is a pure hitter with a nice swing. Luckily for him, the Jays currently have a liability at first base in Justin Smoak.
Smoak, a former first-round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2008, is evidence that top prospects don’t always pan out. After disappointing stints with the Rangers and the Seattle Mariners, Smoak was claimed and signed by the Blue Jays in 2014, only to disappoint yet another fan base.
In his two seasons with the Blue Jays, Smoak has had 595 at-bats. In those 595 at-bats, he has hit 32 home runs to go along with 93 RBIs and an abysmal slash line of .222/.306/.430. While he plays solid defense, Smoak’s bat is just simply not good enough to be a starting first basemen at the MLB level.
Some may say that Steve Pearce could be the full-time first basemen, but Pearce simply cannot fill that role effectively. He is a guy who can start versus left-handed pitching (career .270 hitter versus lefties) and pinch hit late in games, but that is about it. The Blue Jays need a guy at first who can consistently hit right-handed pitching, and it is looking like Tellez could be the guy.
While Tellez will probably not be on the opening day roster, he will eventually earn his call-up when Smoak (most likely) struggles. Once he gets his chance, which will probably come around June, watch for Tellez to run away with the job and become a household favorite among Blue Jays fans.