The subject of much doubt as he raked at each stop in the lower levels, Rowdy Tellez, a 30th-round pick in 2013, always answered the bell. That is, until he got to Triple-A. Scouts who saw Tellez remarked on how it seemed like he wasn't getting good breaks on balls in play, and his .264 BABIP bears that out. However, that doesn't explain why he hit just six home runs in 122 games en route to a .110 ISO -- easily the worst mark of his career. His walk rate (9.4 percent) and his strikeout rate (18.8 percent) were fine. Triple-A pitching may have just vexed him -- sometimes guys hit a wall as they climb through the ranks. Entering his age-23 season, it's possible he can make some adjustments and earn a big-league promotion. However, with Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales around, he not only needs to show significant improvement before getting called up, but would likely need an injury to open up a spot for him.
Tellez was added to the 40-man roster Monday. Tellez will be ineligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft now that he's on Toronto's 40-man roster. He had an underwhelming season at Triple-A Buffalo in 2017. Over 122 games, he hit .222 with a .628 OPS, and he'll likely spend several months at Triple-A to begin 2018.
Tellez, 22, is slashing .226/.298/.337 with six home runs, 55 RBI and six steals in 113 games for Triple-A Buffalo. Tellez never got things going this season, struggling to hit for average while also failing to improve his power stroke. His ISO has plummeted from .233 last season to .112 in 2017. Tellez has been a bit unlucky as witnessed by his .268 BABIP, but no matter how the numbers are crunched, it has been a disappointing season for him. Still, at just 23 years of age he will return to Triple-A at the beginning of the 2018 campaign.
Tellez, 22, is hitting .212/.285/.338 with five home runs and 30 RBI through 64 games for Triple-A Buffalo. The sluggish season thus far from Tellez also happens to coincide with a stellar year for Justin Smoak, the starting first baseman for the big club. As a result -- and with Kendrys Morales still in the fold as well -- Tellez will have to bide his time in the minors waiting for an injury or trade.
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.
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