Toronto Blue Jays: Rowdy Tellez refusing to be left behind

BOSTON, MA - JULY 21: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 after hitting a two run home run in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 21, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JULY 21: Rowdy Tellez #44 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates with teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 after hitting a two run home run in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 21, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

We talk about the bright future of the Blue Jays all the time, and if Rowdy Tellez’s recent performance is any indication, he’s going to be a part of it.

When people talk about the new core of the Toronto Blue Jays, the names that usually come up are Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Nate Pearson, and more. That’s certainly understandable, but there’s another young player who is looking to force his name into the conversation about the next generation of this team, and his recent play has been impossible to deny.

Still only 25 years old, it feels like Rowdy Tellez has been around the Blue Jays for a long time, and in some ways I suppose he has. He made his MLB debut in 2018, but he started his minor league career with the Blue Jays all the way back in 2013 at just 18 years old. Since he’s a name that pretty much all Blue Jays fans are familiar with, he’s not always associated with the idea of the future of this team. However, if his recent performance at the plate could have a lot of folks reconsidering the idea.

That’s not to say that Tellez has been written off at all, however, when the club decided to move Vladimir Guerrero Jr. over to first base prior to the start of the regular season, that didn’t exactly bode well for Tellez’s future with the organization. He’s not a defensively versatile player and would need to be either at first base or designated hitter, and it sounds like that’s the plan for Vlad Jr. as well. With a stated desire from the front office to use the DH spot as less of a permanent home for someone and more of a place to rotate players through to save a day on their feet, that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.

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Although, as the old baseball saying goes, “if you can hit, they’ll find a place for you”, and that will ring true for Tellez as well. He’ll likely face an uphill battle with Vlad Jr. set to take over at first, and the other reasons we’ve discussed, but he has the type of potential offensive skill set that could fit in beautifully with this young group going forward.

For starters, the Blue Jays are probably always going to want to give Vlad Jr. some regular time at DH in order to keep him fresh and get the most out of his bat. With that, they could use a tag-team partner of sorts who could play first when Vlad Jr. is getting a day off of his feet in the infield. More importantly though, that thunderous left-handed bat could be more or less exactly what they need.

There are a lot of talented hitters that have either already arrived, or are still to come, but the vast majority of them are right-handed. That’s not the end of the world by any means, but balance is certainly helpful, and other than Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire, they don’t have a lot of left-handed sticks that look to be a part of the long-term plan.

Go with me for a moment on this, and have a gander at how I see the Blue Jays and the “core” players of the future. I have some omissions from the current roster, like Randal Grichuk for example, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think he could be a part of these plans. This is just how I see things through a long-term lens:

1- Bichette (SS)
2- Austin Martin (CF)
3- Vlad Jr. (1B)
4- DH???
5- Gurriel Jr. (LF)
6- Biggio (2B)
7- RF?? (could be Grichuk/Hernandez/other)
8- Jordan Groshans (3B)
9- Danny Jansen/McGuire (C)

This is just one potential lineup of the future, and feel free to draw it up however you see fit. It might include Biggio moving to the outfield, Martin sticking to the infield, and there’s no guarantee that Groshans succeeds at the highest level, or becomes the third baseman. I’m just using it to illustrate my point about how I see this all coming together, and what I think is missing from the group above: a left-handed big bopper to put somewhere right in the middle of it.

The type of hitter that immediately comes to mind would be someone like David Ortiz (more on that another day), especially if this theoretical “opening” could be at DH. While it’s incredibly unfair to expect Hall of Fame production from Tellez, it’s not hard to see how he could fit the mold. He wouldn’t have to be the star, or even hit in the 4-hole, but having a powerful left-handed bat to break things up would lengthen the lineup and make it even more dangerous.

I’ll admit that as I’ve salivated over what the Blue Jays could look like in a couple of years, Rowdy hasn’t been on many of my lineup cards. That said, he’s going to get another opportunity in 2020, and right now he looks like the Blue Jays’ hottest hitter. We haven’t been privy to a lot of footage from the Rogers Centre over the last few weeks, but it seems like every time we do it’s another clip of Tellez hitting a home run. He’s not going to keep this up forever, but he doesn’t have to in order to be valuable.

With the group that the Blue Jays have been putting together, he shouldn’t have to be a star. Instead, if he’s allowed to focus on what he does best with the bat, he profiles really well with this group both now and in the future. The key will be finding consistency, something that’s alluded him during his brief stops at the highest level so far.

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I realize that I was among those questioned his place with the team not more than a week ago, and I believe that conversation will continue throughout this season and likely into at least 2021. However, based on the way he’s been hitting the ball lately, it doesn’t look like he’s planning on being left behind.