From the Minor League Ball mailbag:
"I know you are working on your Top 75 prospect update right now but I was wondering if you are giving any consideration to Rowdy Tellez in the Blue Jays system? I know he is a stretch for a top 75 but he's having a great year and is young. Could that put him in a top 100?"---Allan F., St. Augustine, Florida
Yes, indeed Tellez is having a good year, and you aren't the first to express interest in Tellez recently: I have received a couple of Twitter questions asking for my current take. So let's take a look at his profile.
So far this year, Tellez has hit .296/.351/.444 in 68 games for Lansing in the Low-A Midwest League, with a 24/56 BB/K in 270 at-bats. He was recently promoted to Dunedin in the High-A Florida State League and has remained hot, batting .296/.387/.593 in his first 13 games with a nice 8/8 BB/K in 54 at-bats. The composite line is .296/.357/.469 with 20 doubles, 12 homers, and a 32/64 BB/K in 324 at-bats.
Keep in mind that the Midwest and Florida State Leagues are pitching-friendly. In relative terms he's been excellent, running up a 130 wRC+ at Lansing and a terrific 196 wRC+ for Dunedin.
Tellez was a 30th round pick in 2012 from high school in Elk Grove, California. Don't be deceived by the draft slot: he was viewed as a second-round talent by draft experts but fell to the 30th due to a University of Southern California commitment that everyone thought he would honor. The Blue Jays had to go way over slot to sign him ($800,000) but sign him they did. He hit well last year (.305/.375/.438 between the Appalachian and Midwest Leagues) and as noted has been strong this year.
Tellez is a big guy, listed at 6-4, 245 with a left/left bat/glove profile. He has the strength to match and shows impressive raw power (generally rated 65 although when he was in high school I heard a 70). However, before he was drafted some scouts worried that his swing was too long to work against advanced pitching (another reason he fell in the draft). Skeptics also said he had a bad body and would be a future DH.
The interesting thing with Tellez is that, thus far, his pure hitting skills have been better than anticipated. He's kept his strikeouts under control, draws his share of walks, and is getting to the raw power more frequently this year. His MLBfarm.com spray chart certainly shows pull-side power but there are some nice opposite field drives on the resume as well, fitting reports that his approach isn't just pull-with-brute-force.
He won't be in a Top 50 right now and I want to see how things look with more second-half data and scouting reports from Florida until I start considering him for the Top 100. But if he remains this effective and the reports are good, Tellez would be in the picture for Top 150. He was ranked as a Grade C+ pre-season and he's done enough to put a B- in play.
It is tough for a first base-only prospect to stand out, but Tellez has taken many steps in the right direction this year and is still just 20 years old. And he's certainly not a "normal" 30th round pick!