Jays' Tellez Combines Patience With Power
TORONTO—Rowdy Tellez made several strides during an important growth season in 2015, but it’s in the subtleties of being in the batter’s box where the hulking first baseman feels he made his most important progress.
"Knowing how to be a hitter,” is how the 6-foot-4, 240-pound, lefthanded-hitting Tellez describes it. "I’ve always believed that . . . the first thing you need to do is to learn how to hit (in order) to hit with power.
"So becoming a comfortable hitter, knowing the zone, knowing what I can and can’t do and just using the whole field—I feel I did those things really well.”
Rewarded with an assignment to Double-A New Hampshire this season, Tellez has continued to make gains in his command of the strike zone, walking 19 times against 11 strikeouts through his first 17 games. That’s why despite a .148 average—he opened 8-for-54 with two doubles and two homers—his on-base percentage was a healthy .351.
The discipline the 21-year-old is showing will serve him well. General manager Ross Atkins said that "power without plate discipline is not quite as exciting, and is something that usually doesn’t transition well.”
Tellez split the 2015 season at low Class A Lansing and high Class A Dunedin, hitting a combined .289/.347/.454 with 24 doubles and 14 home runs in 103 games. A broken hamate bone in his right hand truncated his season and required surgery to repair.
"We were in Daytona Beach, Fla., and on just a little base hit up the middle, I broke my hand,” Tellez said of the injury. "I got to first base and couldn’t open up my hand.”
Tellez recovered in time to impress with an .839 OPS over 21 Arizona Fall League games, earning himself an invitation to big league spring training.
"It’s where everybody wants to be,” said Tellez, who signed for $850,000 as a 30th-round pick out of Elk Grove (Calif.) High in 2013. "It was cool, It wasn’t like I was expecting it, but I put in the hard work, and every kid’s goal is to be in the big leagues.”
• Top prospect Anthony Alford is attempting to rehab a right knee injury suffered while sliding into home during Dunedin’s season opener. The Blue Jays refused to divulge any further details. When Alford was a high school junior, he had surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee.
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• The Blue Jays added lefthander Chad Girodo to the 40-man roster, and he made his big league debut on April 22 with two scoreless innings against the Athletics. Toronto optioned him back to Triple-A Buffalo the next day.