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Welcome to Pittsburgh, Rowdy Tellez

Photo courtesy of Brew Crew Ball.

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent first baseman Rowdy Tellez to a one-year, $3.2MM deal. The contract also includes an additional $800K in incentives.

In 2013, Ryan John “Rowdy” Tellez  was a Rawlings First Team All-American and considered the 59th best player available by Baseball America. Teams stayed away from him because he accepted a scholarship to USC and wasn’t selected until the 30th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Remarkably, he signed with the Blue Jays for a $850,000 signing bonus, the largest ever paid to a post 10th round draft pick. 

Tellez toiled in the minor leagues between 2013-2017, slowly climbing the ladder of the Blue Jays' organization. He finally got his call to the big show in September of 2018 and played in 23 games for the Blue Jays. He hit .314 with 4 homeruns in 70 at-bats.

2019 was his best power season with Toronto hitting 21 homers, though he only hit .227. He was traded in July of 2021 to Milwaukee and the following season he had by far his best power numbers as a major league player. In 2022 for the Brewers, Tellez hit 35 home runs and knocked in 89 runs, both career highs. Last season, Tellez could not repeat his success and suffered through a right forearm and a ring finger injury that held him back. He ended the season only hitting .215 with 13 home runs in 311 at-bats.

Tellez is 6’4” and weighs 270 lbs. who has in the past, struggled to maintain an acceptable playing weight. He is a power hitter with a good eye at the plate and does not strike out a lot. He is definitely a pull power hitter and at PNC Park, this may be advantageous to the Bucs. He can hit the ball the other way and has sprayed his share of hits to the left side. 

Tellez is not much of a runner and tends to clog up the base paths with his lack of speed. He is a large target at first base, but he is a below average defender, who struggles at times with scooping low throws. He will likely be a step back from Carlos Santana’s play last year. 

The Tellez signing brings a player who has always hit well at PNC Park and is only one year removed from hitting 35 home runs. He most likely will platoon with Connor Joe at first base, even though his splits against left-handers are not as bad as many may think. Depending on how the Pirates intend to dish out the DH duties, don’t be surprised if his rough defense leads him to some DH at-bats as well. If Tellez can get back to a 30-homer potential, he will add a much-needed power hitter in the middle of the lineup.

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