Lefties Smith, Tellez help each other during Fall League
Mets No. 5 prospect helps Blue Jays No. 7 prospect improve defensively
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rowdy Tellez and Dominic Smith are constantly getting compared to each other, but more importantly they're learning from each other.
The first base prospects are both left-handed power hitters and the similarities in their games have allowed them to forge a friendship.
"We're really good friends, especially since we're always being compared to each other and are both from California," Tellez, the No. 7 prospect in the Blue Jays system, said. "We bounce everything off each other, offense and defense."
"We talk a lot about hitting," Smith said. "We bounce ideas off of each other and we see how the pitcher pitches each other. We are both similar [as] lefties hitting in middle of order."
While both players were drafted with above average bats, their defensive skills vary greatly and that's where the two have spent a lot of time working together as teammates on the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.
Smith, the No. 5 prospect in the Mets system, is a very good defender, but when Tellez was selected in the 30th round of the 2013 Draft, he was a below average defender.
That's where Smith's tutelage comes in.
"He's a really, really good defender and I've strived to work on my defense to become somebody like him," Tellez said of Smith. "I like to talk to him a lot about defensive setups and what he's thinking, what goes through his mind."
John Tamargo, who managed Tellez at Class A Advanced Dunedin and is a hitting coach for the Arizona Fall League's Salt River Rafters, has noticed how close the two are and clearly sees the benefits of the relationship.
"Dom's a really, really good defender -- above average defender," Tamargo said. "It's a good experience for Rowdy, taking groundballs with a guy like that every day, pick his brain and get some information on what he does."
However, Tellez isn't the only one learning.
Just as Tellez gleans information from Smith, Smith relies on Tellez's insights for trends and tendencies he may not have picked up on otherwise.
"We talk a lot about defense. We really just talk about how to position people and what other hitter's tendencies are," Smith said. "We just help each other with positioning and take extra work, ground balls, picks and work on our feet to get ready before the game."
The duo can constantly be seen working together during batting practice and discussing the intricacies of the position. And while Tellez isn't as good as he wants to be yet, Smith knows his friend has made great strides.
"I've seen a big improvement, this year," Smith said. "He's way better than what people give him credit for. For him to be that big, he's really light on his feet. He plays some good defense. What I try to instill in him is, 'have confidence in your defense and take pride in it. Just because you're bigger, and you weren't as good at first, you can still be a good defender. Just work hard at it and continue to believe in yourself. Don't just count yourself out.'"
So far, Tellez has capitalized on the opportunity to work with Smith on a daily basis and if he continues to heed Smith's advice, his growth is likely to continue.