Rowdy Tellez

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Ryan John Tellez

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Biographical Information[edit]

1B Rowdy Tellez was drafted in the 30th round of the 2013 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays signed him for a $850,000 bonus, setting a record for post-10th round bonus.

Rowdy reached the majors with the Blue Jays as part of their September call-ups in 2018. In his debut on September 5th, he doubled as a pinch-hitter off Jacob Faria of the Tampa Bay Rays. He had spent the season in AAA with the Buffalo Bisons where he hit .270 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs in 112 games as the starting first baseman. He also hit doubles in his first two plate appearances in his second game, against the Cleveland Indians on September 6th, to set a record and finished that day at 3 for 4, the other hit being yet another double. Not done yet, he went 2 for 5 the next day, with both hits also being of the two-base variety. That gave him 6 doubles in his first 10 career plate appearances. He continued to do well over the next few weeks, and on September 21st, he had a homer and double in a spectacular 9-8 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. His double in the 9th drove in the first run of a spectacular 7-run comeback in the 9th inning in that game, and at the end of that day, he was hitting .385 with 8 doubles and 2 homers in 14 games. He finished his first cup of coffee at .314 in 23 games, with 9 doubles and 4 homers for a slugging percentage of .614.

In 2019, he made the team out of spring training, making him one of a number of rookies occupying spots in the regular line-up, alongside OF Billy McKinney, C Danny Jansen and 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who joined them a month later. He was mainly used as the DH, while occasionally spelling Justin Smoak at 1B. He was benched against most lefties at the start of the season, but was given more opportunities to face them as things progressed, especially after he hit his first career grand slam off lefty Tony Watson of the San Francisco Giants on April 23rd. He had a great game against the Boston Red Sox on May 21st when he victimized another southpaw, Eduardo Rodriguez, for a pair of homers and drove in 5 runs in a 10-3 win. In all, he hit .227 in 111 games, with 21 homers and 54 RBIs and an OPS+ of 95.

In 2020, the Blue Jays made some changes to their infield, letting Justin Smoak leave and signing Travis Shaw, which seemed to make Rowdy the primary first baseman, but there was a major shake-up when training camp resumed in early July following the pause forced by the Coronavirus pandemic: the Jays announced that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was moving across the infield from third base to first, which meant that Rowdy would have to find most of his playing time at DH. He hit quite well during his time in the line-up, with a .283 average, 8 homers and 23 RBIs in 35 games, for an OPS+ of 140. However, he played his last regular season game on September 8th as he was felled by a right knee strain. He came back for the Wild Card Series, but had only one at-bat in the two games, getting a hit as a pinch-hitter. The signing of George Springer as a free agent after the season once again put his playing time into doubt heading into 2021, as the Jays had six players to occupy five positions, but because Springer missed most of the first three months with a series of injury, Tellez got a chance to play semi-regularly. However, he started off on the wrong foot, by going 0 for 21 before getting his first hit. He never really recovered, ending April at .183 with just 1 homer and 3 RBIs and doing only marginally better in May. By the time Springer was finally ready to play in late June, he was still hitting just .209 with 4 homers and 8 RBIs, and he was the one who headed to AAA to make room on the roster. On July 6th, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for reliever Trevor Richards, in a deal where two contending teams were dealing from an area of strength to consolidate an obvious weakness. Another young player, P Bowden Francis also headed to Toronto in the deal. He became an important player for the Brewers, batting .272 in 56 games, with 7 homers and 28 RBIs and an OPS+ of 115. In the postseason, he was the hero of Game 1 of the Division Series against the Atlanta Braves on October 8th when his two-run homer off Charlie Morton in the 7th inning accounted for all of Milwaukee's runs in a 2-1 win. He added another homer and two more RBIs in Game 4, but the Brewers lost the series, three games to one, and were eliminated.

On May 4, 2022, he set a new team record with 8 RBIs in an 18-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds; he went 4 for 6 with 2 homers in the game. Both homers were monster shots, traveling over 430 feet, and one of them was a grand slam. He just missed a second grand slam in the 8th, hitting a two-run double off the wall instead. While he batted just .219 in 153 games that year, he displayed excellent power with 23 doubles and 35 homers while driving in 89 runners. All three figures were personal bests and his OPS+ was 115. Before the 2023 season, he joined the Mexican national team for the 2023 World Baseball Classic. He could have qualified to play for three teams - the USA, Israel and Mexico, the latter two through family connections. He chose Mexico to honor his grandfather, who played baseball in Mexico before emigrating to the U.S. long before he was born. At 28, he felt like an older statesman on the team, as every other infielder was younger than him. He helped Mexico reach the event's semi-finals for the first time in five participations. On April 4th for the Brewers, he connected off New York Mets ace for a solo homer in the 6th inning, and teammates Brian Anderson and Garrett Mitchell proceeded to go deep as well to give the Brewers their first back-to-back-to-back homers since 2018. Anderson and Mitchell then did one better in the 7th, combining to both go deep again, as the Brewers ended up 9-0 winners. In an interesting side note, he was on the mound for the Brewers when they clinched a division title on September 22nd. The first pitching appearance of his pitching career came in a blowout game, as the rules on position players taking the mound now stipulate, but this one was a blowout win by the Brewers over the Miami Marlins. They had put the game away with a 12-run 2nd inning, their biggest of the season, and were leading 16-1 by the time Rowdy got on the mound to start the bottom of the 9th. Miami had already thrown in the towel as back-up catcher Jacob Stallings had pitched the last two innings for them. He gave up one hit and struck out one while keeping the Fish from scoring. He hit .215 in 105 games that season, with 13 homers and 47 RBIs and an OPS+ of 82. As a result of his drop in production, he did not see any action in the postseason when the Brewers were swept at home in two games by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Wild Card Series.

He became a free agent after the 2023 season an on December 12 reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $3,2 million with an additional $800,000 in performance incentives.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2019 & 2022)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2022)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mandy Bell: "Tellez looks forward to Team Mexico 'winning it all'",, March 8, 2023. [1]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Tellez in 'great shape' after losing ... 1 pound? Blue Jays slugger slimmed down, added muscle in offseason program",, February 29, 2020. [2]
  • Adam McCalvy: "Ding-dong: Rowdy's dingers, franchise-best 8 RBIs help Crew ring in new celebration",, May 5, 2022. [3]
  • Adam McCalvy: "Tellez vs. the Red Sox? The stats are inexplicable: Crew first baseman hits 7th homer of season, his 14th in 37 games against Boston",, April 22, 2023. [4]

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