Tellez worked with Jays legend Carlos Delgado last week on finding a consistent stroke at the plate, John Lott of The Athletic reports. Devon White, the former Blue Jays star who is now Tellez's hitting coach at Triple-A Buffalo, has also been molding the young first baseman. Both White and Delgado agree that the 22-year-old needs to take advantage of the inner half of the plate. "I think his swing got a little long," White said. "And he wants to use the whole field, but sometimes you can't use the whole field. You have to go with how they're pitching you, and they're pitching him in a lot. So he should be pulling those pitches." Tellez said he was determined to shed his pull-hitter stereotype, but also admitted that strategy has worked against him. "I wanted to use the whole field and that was affecting me," he said. "Now that we've talked and worked on it, it's understanding that if they're pitching me inside consistently, then I've got to know exactly what's going on." In his first season playing at Triple-A, Tellez is hitting .208/.359/.457 through 38 games.
Tellez, 22, is slashing just .198/.298/.333 with three home runs and eight RBI through 21 games for Triple-A Buffalo. Edwin Encarnacion is long gone and Justin Smoak has been merely adequate, but this is not the type of start that will get the Blue Jays thinking of handing Tellez the keys to first base. Tellez remains the first baseman of the future for the Jays, but a call-up is anything but imminent.
Manager John Gibbons said Monday that Tellez will report to Triple-A Buffalo to begin the season, Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun reports. Tellez impressed the Blue Jays' brass with his strong plate discipline during spring training, but the 22-year-old didn't warrant any serious attention for an Opening Day roster spot, despite the team's lack of depth at first base. After a breakout season at Double-A New Hampshire in which he swatted 23 homers, Tellez will have to prove the power he displayed wasn't a fluke while moving up to Triple-A, but his existing contact skills should at least give him a decent floor once he matriculates to the majors.
Tellez was touted by manager John Gibbons as the team's prospect who is closest to being ready for the majors, Paul Hagen of MLB.com reports. Gibbons' remarks mirror the consensus among scouts and a majority of prospect rankings. "The guy can hit," Gibbons said of Tellez. "He's not going to steal a lot of bases, but he'll surprise you at times. It's kind of interesting. I was talking to [Tim Raines] the other day and asked him what kind of baserunner Rowdy was. And he said he might be the best in the system. I mean, he's not a fast guy. But that tells you something about him. He's a complete player. He's a talented kid." Even though the 21-year-old first baseman (an unstable position for the Jays) is slated to begin the year in the minors, it wouldn't be irrational for owners in extremely deep leagues to take a risk on draft day and stash Tellez on the bench in hopes of a mid-season call-up. Regardless of where he begins the 2017 campaign, he should be rostered in the vast majority of dynasty formats.
Tellez, 21, is batting .342 with three home runs and eight RBI in his last 10 games for Double-A New Hampshire. The recent surge pushes Tellez's slash line up to .296/.389/.507 on the season. He has 16 home runs in 98 games, already surpassing his previous career high in home runs set in 2015. His stock is on the rise in the Toronto organization.