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Tellez continues dominant play against Red Sox

@baseballexis
September 11, 2019

TORONTO -- Rowdy Tellez will be the first to say that he’s not a home run hitter. But the 24-year-old first baseman would also give his present power a 60 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, projecting to escalate to 70 grade power throughout his career, sharing that he understands

TORONTO -- Rowdy Tellez will be the first to say that he’s not a home run hitter.

But the 24-year-old first baseman would also give his present power a 60 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, projecting to escalate to 70 grade power throughout his career, sharing that he understands he has raw power to spare. As the Blue Jays get a continued glimpse of what Tellez has to offer in his return to the big leagues this season, that’s exactly what they have been looking for.

In Tuesday’s series opener against the Red Sox at Rogers Centre, Tellez powered Toronto to a 4-3 win with a go-ahead two-run shot to right-centre field in the fifth inning, continuing the damage he’s done against the reigning World Series champions throughout the season and snapping the Blue Jays' seven-game losing skid.

Box score

“He’s got 80 power,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “So he’s got a chance to hit a ball like that almost every at-bat, so that was great to see. That’s the Rowdy that we’re hoping we get.”

Tellez’s homer was his 18th of the season in his 97th game with Toronto, to go along with the seven long balls he hit during a 26-game stint with Triple-A Buffalo.

“I try to be a line-drive hitter,” Tellez said. “A guy who hits the ball hard, consistently. “I would like to hit home runs, but if I played the entire season and didn’t get sent down, I’d be pushing 30 homers. If I play a full season in the big leagues and get that under my belt, I’m only going to become a better hitter and lay off pitches, and hopefully I can hit 30 home runs for a long time.”

Adding a single in his 2-for-4 night on Tuesday, Tellez has hit .429 (15-for-35) with six home runs, three doubles and 13 RBIs in 10 games against the Red Sox this year. He has reached base safely in every contest he’s played against Boston, adding five walks in those matchups.

“Everything down, he’s getting to it,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We’ve been trying to go to other places. We got him out a few times, but in that particular time, 1-1 [count], we felt going in, it wasn’t enough and he put a good swing on it.”

Added Montoyo, “That was a good at-bat against a good left-handed pitcher that they brought in. He stayed inside the ball pretty well, so that’s a great sign. Facing a lefty and hitting the ball to right-center, that’s a good sign. So hopefully they’ll come in bunches now.”

In 586 contests at the Minor League level, Tellez hit 71 long balls, good for one every 8.25 games. In 120 matchups in the Majors since his 2018 debut, the California native has gone yard 22 times, good for one home run every 5.45 games.

“I’m getting to pitches that I need to,” Tellez said. “And I’m not trying to do too much in situations where when I was younger, I was trying to hit balls a country mile. And all I need to do is hit it right over the wall ...

“Those balls I hit today, I didn’t try to elevate. That was a line-drive home run. There are ones that I’ve hit -- one in Atlanta had a 41-degree launch angle, and tonight was 20 -- so I’m strong enough to hit line drives over the fence, and that’s all I want to do.”

The run support backed T.J. Zeuch’s first start in the big leagues, though the 24-year-old right-hander exited with a no-decision. Toronto’s No. 16 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, allowed three runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings, with three walks and one strikeout in his home debut.

“Winning is everything,” Zeuch said. “So to pitch a subpar game, I would say, and have my team behind me put up four runs to get the win, it’s obviously the most important thing and it’s a great thing to have.”

After seeing what Tellez could do with the Bisons earlier this season, Zeuch was excited to see the slugger in the lineup for his turn in the rotation.

“It just comes so easy to him -- the nice, easy, free swing, and how far he can hit the ball when he gets the barrel to it,” Zeuch said of Tellez. “He’s a tremendous hitter. He put a lot of his power on display tonight with that home run. He’s a tremendous clutch hitter as well. He hit a lot of big home runs for us, a lot of big hits for us down in Buffalo, and another very big home run tonight.”

All four of Toronto’s runs in Tuesday’s win came around via the long ball -- adding solo shots from Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire -- which the Blue Jays have been leaning on quite heavily this season, and perhaps to an historical end. The club has scored 340 of its 631 runs this year on homers. If its current rate of 53.9 percent holds, it will be the highest in Major League history.

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.