When it comes to feel good stories this season, there hasn’t been too many. Most Jays fans are looking at the farm system to help cope with another lost season. A ton of the noise being drummed up is off the bat of Vladdy G, of course, as he continues to make MiLB pitchers suffer. However, there are other players besides the big name prospects that you continue to hear about week-in-and-week-out, who are doing impressive things.
Rowdy Tellez is one of them.
I wrote about Tellez earlier in the year for my site Jays Droppings, which I haven’t been writing too much content for this season since Blue Jays Nation gave me the awesome opportunity to write for them full-time.
In the piece that I did about Tellez back in February I typed up this:
In 2015, Tellez put up some dirty/good/numbers in the hitter-friendly Midwest League with the Lansing Lugnuts. And he followed that up in ’16 by making a lot of noise in AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, slashing .297/.387/.530 with an awesome 152 wRC+. The future was looking pretty damn bright for this young man and he was starting to look like he would find his way to the Dome faster than the average prospect.
With those kinds of promising numbers, Ross Atkins, John Gibbons and manager of the Buffalo Bisons, Bobby Meacham, couldn’t have foreseen the struggles that Tellez would endure at the plate in AAA, as he ended the year putting together an uninspiring line of .222/.295/.333 with a woeful 73 wRC+ and 47/94 BB/K in 501 plate appearances.
But, I think that it’s important for fickle Blue Jays fans to remember that Tellez was only 22 last year and he was playing baseball with a lot on his mind and with a heavy heart, as his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma before the start of last season.
Laura Armstrong of The Toronto Star recently interviewed Rowdy Tellez about his mom’s struggle with cancer. In this great piece, Tellez talks about how he has learned to be more open about this hardship and talk about his feelings rather than bottling it all up, which he says is what he did last year. It’s a really great interview and you should most definitely read it if you haven’t already.
I’m not about to copy and paste Armstrong’s interview here, but one thing that Tellez said in it that stood out to me is this:
“My teammates and my coaching staff have told me: ‘You being more vulnerable has made you a better person, a better teammate.’ I’ve calmed down. I don’t get mad as often … Having a bad game’s not always fun, but it could always be worse. My mom fights every day for her life and doesn’t know if she’s going to see the next one. If I get mad if I go 0-for-4, that’s pretty selfish of me.”
Rowdy Tellez, who turned 23 in March, seems to have really matured over the year and grown as a person. Clearly, the health of his mother is more important than any baseball statistic; however, there isn’t a chance in hell that this young man is about to give up on his MLB dream.
The truth is there isn’t a prospect in the system that I root for more than Tellez. Since the beginning of the season, I have been watching as many Bisons games as I can and I always seem to care more when Tellez sets foot in the batter’s box than other players on the team. I want him to barrel the damn ball statcast style. I get excited when he makes a nice defensive play. I guess, I’m a Rowdy Tellez fan.
It’s important to remember that back in the 2016/17 offseason many Jays fans were howling for Tellez to become the everyday first baseman for the team. He was arguably the most talked about prospect in the Jays’ system at that time. Now, all of these wails, of course, were happening before Justin Smoak had an All-Star year – a year that put an end to the famous #SmoakStrikesOut thing, so there is that. But, talent does have a tendency to straighten out and Tellez is proving that this year.
After a slow start to this season, Tellez has been millennial lit. He is hitting .274, has an OPS of .788, and a wRC+ 120. He has gone yard 13 times and is currently leading the active roster with 46 good ol’ fashion RBIs – not too damn bad at all. Tellez is making noise again.
?Get bout it and ROWDY.
Rowdy Tellez hit two homers and a double for the @BuffaloBisons tonight. After his 2nd two-homer game this season, the first baseman now has 13 home runs and is No. 29 on the #BlueJays Top 30: https://t.co/2pHoryDqL3 pic.twitter.com/w09jN0oZnI
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 15, 2018
Back in February, I typed up this little conclusion in that Tellez piece I mentioned earlier:
Rowdy Tellez is only 22-years-old, he has climbed through the Blue Jays’ system at a fast pace, and he seems in the right frame of mind heading into this season.
So, we should all have an eye on Tellez down in Buffalo because this kid isn’t about to quit on his dream, and I’m sure that he will reignite the hype that has accompanied him on his journey to the majors.
And he certainly has reignited the hype. He certainly is starting to drum up some noise. Rowdy Tellez is one of the Blue Jays’ top prospects, maybe even a little underrated. But, that’s fine. I love underdog stories. And Rowdy Tellez is an underdog that we should all be pulling for. The Blue Jays’ 895th overall pick back in 2013 is proving to fans that there’s more to him than 2017. But, I think, more importantly, he’s proving it to himself.