November 23, 2014
Every June, MLB holds their annual draft, where all 30 teams are given the opportunity to select amateur players and fill them within their organizations as needed. In 2013, California-native 1B Rowdy Tellez was drafted in the 30th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. While Tellez originally believed he would be selected in the second-round, the powerful hitter fell, as many believed he was unlikely to sign due to his stated intentions of attending college.
“My draft experience was different than most,” explained Tellez. “I talked to some guys who were selected where they were expected and they were happy. Then I got picked and that’s all that mattered. I’m really happy to be here in the Blue Jays organization.”
The Blue Jays negotiated a deal to sign a talented young player with a lot of upside, agreeing on an $850,000 signing bonus with a clause to pay for Tellez’s college education whenever he has an opportunity to pursue a degree.
The risk to sign a player over slot value has worked out well for the organization thus far. Tellez had a big 2014 season that began in advanced rookie ball with the Bluefield Blue Jays. While in the Appalachian League, Tellez batted .293 with 11 doubles, a triple, four home runs, and 36 RBIs. The quick start earned the California-native a promotion to the Midwest League. He joined the Lansing Lugnuts in August and even though he was 2 1/2 years younger than most of his competition, he made the transition look easy in his 42 Midwest League at-bats. In that time, Tellez picked up 15 hits including two home runs and seven RBIs with an impressive .357/.449/.500 slash line.
Summarizing his season, Tellez discussed what he most enjoyed from his 2014 campaign. “Bluefield is nice. The community showed us a lot of love being a small town,” he said. “The trips weren’t bad in the Appalachian League, but I was definitely ready to move up and play at a higher level.”
“I was shocked when I found out I was promoted to Lansing. It was shocking but exciting,” Tellez added. “It was definitely a surprise when I came out of the dugout for my first game and heard all the people in the stands. It was really cool. I really like playing here.”
Although fans in Vancouver didn’t get to see Tellez in the regular season, the opportunity to see the 19-year old presented itself in the Northwest League playoffs. The young first baseman joined the C’s in September and appeared in three games where he picked up a hit in 11 at-bats.
With a major emphasis on power among major league first basemen, Tellez is happy with the kind of power he possesses and his overall potential.
“I’m just 19-years old so I know that I still have a little growing to do,” he said. “I figure I’ll get bigger and stronger over the next couple years. Hopefully that will help my power. I’m hoping to be a game changer down the road.”
That potential is something that caught the eye of Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Ken Huckaby who enjoyed working with the young prospect in August.
“Rowdy is a good young hitter,” stated Huckaby. “He has a lot of power and a lot of potential. It was great having him here with us.”
Even though Tellez has turned a lot of heads with his bat, he is equally proud of his defense. With a .986 career fielding percentage with 59 double plays and 32 assists in his 92 career games at first, Tellez feels his ability to play the field is overlooked due to his bat.
“My biggest strength is my offense. Definitely my ability to get hits and knock in runs, but I feel my defense is overshadowed sometimes,” explained Tellez. “I feel I’m a pretty good first baseman and I’m always striving to improve my defense. It’s an important part of the game.”
With a list of accolades from his high school days, the moments the stand out the most in his baseball career are memories he was able to share with his close knit family who has always been there to support him and push him in the right direction.
“Being an All-American was cool, but a lot of my favorite memories are with my family,” stated Tellez. “The first time my parents saw me play professional baseball in Bluefield really stands out. It was a special moment. Another moment that really stands out was when I told my Grandma I signed a professional contract. I’ll always remember her reaction and how proud she was of me.”
In fact, it was the same three family members that started his nickname ‘Rowdy’ for their son. Tellez’s real first name is Ryan, but he says everybody knows him as ‘Rowdy”.
“Not knowing if I was a boy or girl in my mom’s stomach. I just liked to kick and move around a lot, so my grandma gave me the nickname Rowdy,” explained Tellez. “The name always stuck. People know me as Rowdy.”
Be sure to keep your eye on Rowdy Tellez as he continues to develop his power and display excellent defense in 2015.