JFtC continues our 2019 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects list with #16- Rowdy Tellez
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2019. We’ve selected our Top 20 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”. To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2019 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
Drafted in the 30th round of the MLB draft in 2013 at age 18, the left handed hitting first baseman has had an up and down professional baseball career so far. Following the draft, he played 34 games at rookie ball that season. His first pro season was less than stellar, hitting .234/.319/.371. Over the next three seasons, Tellez played at rookie ball, A, A+ and finally AA and his bat showed great promise. His OPS was .812 in 2014, .801 in 2015 and .917 in 2016. People were penciling Tellez in as the Jays’ power hitting 1B of the future.
Then in the off season, tragedy struck the Tellez family. Tellez’s mother Lori was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Rowdy played at AAA in 2017 and his stats were nothing like the hitter he had been over the previous three seasons, slashing .222/.295/.333. How much of his season long hitting slump could (understandably) be attributed to his mental and emotional state and how much was high minor league pitching catching up with him? It was hard to tell.
|2013||18||Rk||34||141||10||29||5||2||20||1||15||26||.234||.319||.371||.690||BJY · GULF|
|2014||19||Rk,A||65||267||32||71||11||6||43||3||26||37||.305||.375||.438||.812||BLD,LNS · APPY,MIDW|
|2015||20||A,A+||103||447||53||116||24||14||77||5||38||84||.289||.347||.454||.801||LNS,DUN · MIDW,FLOR|
|2016||21||AA||124||514||71||130||29||23||81||4||63||92||.297||.387||.530||.917||MAN · EL|
|2017||22||AAA||122||501||45||99||29||6||56||6||47||94||.222||.295||.333||.628||BFL · IL|
|2018||23||AAA||112||444||43||106||22||13||50||7||40||74||.270||.340||.425||.765||BFL · IL|
|1 Yr||1 Yr||1 Yr||23||73||10||22||9||4||14||0||2||21||.314||.329||.614||.943|
Tellez spent most of the 2018 season at AAA as his mother continued to battle cancer. His OPS in April was .586, then in May it rose to .750 and .748 in June. In July and August, Tellez looked more like his old self with the bat, with an OPS of .911 and .827 respectively. Sadly Lori Tellez lost her battle with cancer on August 19, 2018.
Tellez made his MLB debut in September of 2018 and he was one of the few bright spots in a down season for the Blue Jays. In 23 games, he hit .314/.329/.614. His BABIP of .391 probably isn’t sustainable over the long run so that’s one thing to keep an eye on. His .614 slugging percentage would have been 4th in MLB if he had had enough ABs to qualify. Can he maintain anywhere close to that power hitting pace? At the very least, that would be the best case scenario for the young slugger.
Tools wise, Tellez has 60 grade raw power. His speed, fielding and throwing are all graded below average. 23 year old Tellez still has time to improve his fielding but at present it appears that his hitting is what will make or break his MLB career. Fangraphs values has his offence at 4.8 and his defence at -2.6. Putting that together you have 2.2 – a replacement level player.
The Blue Jays have MLB veterans Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales under contract for 2019, after which time both are eligible for free agency. Assuming both stay healthy and with the organization, Tellez will likely start 2019 at AAA simply because there is no place for him to play with the Jays. If he can live up to his potential with the bat, an MLB career will be in his future. If he improves his defence enough to at least be an average fielder, he could be the 1B of the future. If not, he could still help the team as the DH or a bat off the bench.
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