Blue Jays: First hit was extra special for Rowdy Tellez
In his first big league at bat and on the first pitch he ever saw, Rowdy Tellez hit a double for the Blue Jays. It was a bittersweet moment for the newest rookie.
There has been an awful lot talk about the Blue Jays’ minor league system this year, and for good reason. Not only has the big league club limped through a difficult campaign, but there are plenty of youngsters turning aheads at pretty much every level of the minor leagues.
Some of the names you’re more than aware of: Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Anthony Alford, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and there are many more who are impressing as well. However, if you were to list off the top prospects in the system a couple years ago you likely would have heard about a power hitting first baseman that was expected to be the future of the position. In fact, there were a lot of folks who thought that Rowdy Tellez might even challenge Justin Smoak for the first base job in 2017, before Smoak turned into a big asset at the plate of course.
Since then things haven’t gone quite according to plan for Tellez, especially last season. In 122 games with the Buffalo Bisons, the slugger hit just .222/.295/.333, a stark contrast from the year before when his slash line was .297/.387/.530 with 23 home runs, mostly in Double-A. He wasn’t able to make the adjustment as expected and as a result it was a no-brainer to have him repeat there in 2018.
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This year has been much better on the diamond for Tellez, and he’s managed to show a lot more potential in the batter’s box. He slashed .270/.340/.435 this season in 112 games, adding 13 home runs, 22 doubles, and 50 RBI. Nothing staggering by any means, but at the very least he was trending in the right direction after a difficult 2017 season.
Unfortunately tragedy struck for the young man recently when his mother lost her long battle with brain cancer. The timing would have made for an easily justified absence for Tellez for the rest of this year, but fortunately some encouragement from family, teammates, and coaches landed him in Toronto on Wednesday night, celebrating all of the hard work that he’s put in throughout his young career.
Thankfully the baseball gods were ready to write another poem on the diamond, and Tellez stroked the first pitch into the gap.
In a lost season for the Blue Jays it would be easy to dismiss a hit like that with a passing glance. However, when you know the back story of the emotional struggle this man has gone through not just recently, but the last couple of years as well, it was a moment to savour for Blue Jays fans, and for friends and family of the California native. If you’re interested, Jeff Blair of the Fan 590 had him on for an interview and he was forthright with how life had been difficult, but this opportunity provided a positive distraction for him.
Wednesday night also provided the first hit of his career and a milestone worth remembering for any new big leaguer. It might also have been a little bit of relief for a hurting young man, and a reward for persevering through something much bigger than baseball.
When people ask why you keep watching in September when your team is out of the race, it’s moments like this. Good for you young man, I’m happy for you.