Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Rowdy Tellez’ 2017 season
Okay Jays From the Couch readers, I continue to work through MLB Pipeline Blue Jays Top 30 Prospect list with a look at Rowdy Tellez. I’m not going to lie, I have not been looking forward to this Highlight and Lowlight write up.
You see, I am a fan of all Blue Jay prospects. So I wrestle to complete a write up when I have to focus on so much negative. I’ll strive to give our readers an unbiased review of Tellez’ 2017 without too much ‘bashing’.
So here we go.
Coming out of Spring Training, the name Rowdy Tellez was on the tip of the tongue every Blue Jays fan. Toronto fans were beating the “Dump Justin Smoak and start Tellez” drum in April but that drum fell silent very quickly as Smoak exploded out of the gates while Tellez stumbled.
The former 2013 30th round pick was unable to capitalize on a solid 2016 season. Heading into the preseason, Tellez was placed as Toronto’s 5th best prospect by MLB Pipeline. The burly 1st baseman hit 2 home runs in his Buffalo debut but showed little power in the other 121 games he played. The down year prompted MLB Pipeline to push Rowdy Tellez to number 12 in the system.
Tellez spent the entire 2017 trying to figure out Triple-A, he hit under .200 in three months. He struggled to deal with some personal issues but showed maturity by never letting his struggles get him too down.
Despite his struggles, Tellez was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster.
Rowdy Tellez Career Stats
Not a lot went right for Rowdy Tellez in Buffalo. He continues to show decent plate awareness, posting a 9.4 BB%, 18.8 K%, and 0.50 BB/K.
The 6-foot-4 Tellez hit .251 off RHP, hitting 5 home runs, and 26 doubles while posting a .696 OPS.
Most power hitters have a tendency to get pull-happy; however, Tellez used the entire field. He posted 34.3 pull%, 40.7 opp%, and just 25.0 center%.
The native of Elk Grove, CA, had his best month in August when he batted .311 with eight doubles, 14 RBI, 12 walks, 20 strikeouts, and a .776 OPS.
On May 27th, Tellez went 4-for-5 with a run scored, 5 total bases, a double, 4 RBI, and a SB. By the way, Tellez also set a career high with 6 SB.
The power-hitting Tellez had too many hitless games in 2017 but it was the total lack of power the 1st baseman demonstrated which was so concerning. After Tellez hit 23 HR (.233 ISO) as a member of the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, he managed just a .110 ISO. His production fell from .405 wOBA in AA down to .284 wOBA in AAA.
What went wrong?
Was it bad luck, thanks to a low .264 BABIP?
Or was he simply overmatched and failed to make the adjustments required to turn his season around?
Looking at the 1st baseman’s top 3 plate appearance outcomes may help explain his results: Groundout (99), K (94), and Flyout (78). It’s never good when the top 3 outcomes result in an out unless you are a pitcher.
Despite maintaining his batted ball percentages, with a slight improvement in his line drive percentage (20.8% up to 21.1%), Tellez just couldn’t hit the ball out of the park. His flyball percentage shrunk to 38.2 % from 39.6% but he saw his HR/FB fall from 16.5% to 4.5%.
Every Blue Jays fan hopes Justin Smoak will repeat or improve on his 2017 breakout in 2018. This would buy Rowdy Tellez time to develop in Triple-A. Despite batting over .300 in the final month of the Bisons season, Tellez hit a total of zero HR. This will need to change as he is expected to return to Buffalo in 2018.
With little in the way of competition, at 1st, coming up behind Tellez, he will get the bulk of the playing time at 1st for the Herd. I don’t expect Emilio Guerrero or Matt Dean (Free Agent) to surpass Tellez and will continue getting regular at-bats, regardless of the results.
However, many scouts feel that Tellez lacks the ability to hit enough (consistency or power) to establish himself as a Major Leaguer. Instead, scouts have pegged him as a AAAA player destined to bounce between the majors and minors.
MLB Pipeline expected Tellez to make his MLB debut in 2017 which didn’t happen. Now that he’s on the 40-man roster, Tellez has a better chance of joining the Blue Jays at some time in 2018. At the very least, Tellez should make his MLB debut as September call-up.
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