Maybe the most surprising angle to this year's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft was that Elk Grove slugger Rowdy Tellez was still on the board going into the third and final day of the draft Saturday.
Baseball America had ranked the 6-5, 220-pounder as the 59th best prospect in the draft, the third-best first baseman. MLB.Com’s draft preview ranked him the 99th best prospect overall.
|EGHS' Rowdy Tellez, drafted in the 30th round|
by the Blue Jays Saturday
But, Tellez said early on in the draft he knew things couldn’t be worked out between him and any baseball club.
“I was contacted by quite a few teams, but the timing wasn’t right (to be drafted),” he said. “They didn’t have the things to offer us and as a family we decided that education was the way to go.”
Tellez has already signed a NCAA National Letter-of-Intent to play collegiately for Southern Cal.
“I’m now going to USC and help them win a couple national championships,” he said. “Getting the opportunity to play for a great program in the biggest media market and hit home runs for them is something I can look forward to.”
On its website, MLB wrote an impressive summary about Tellez prior to the draft: “Big, strong, left-handed-hitting first baseman don't come through the Draft all that often these days. Tellez fits that mold, and his ability to do damage with the bat was generating some buzz this spring.”
But, the big first baseman wasn’t selected by any club on the first two days. Finally, just past 2 p.m. local time Saturday, the Blue Jays took him in the 30th round, the 895th pick overall.
“That’s just another day, another game in the life of a baseball player,” Tellez said of the Blue Jays selection of him. “I am looking forward to playing three years at USC, get better and then be a first-rounder.”
Tellez says his plans for the summer are a bit up in the air, but may join some USC teammates playing in the Northwoods League for the St. Cloud franchise. Tellez’ mother is from New Hope, Minn.
His Elk Grove teammate, Dom Nunez, apparently has committed to sign with the Rockies. He told the Sacramento Bee that prior to his selection in the sixth round the Rockies phoned him.
"They gave me a figure, and I called my parents to make sure it was OK," Nunez told the Bee.
He said the inducement to sign now was good enough that he won’t head to UCLA in the fall. Nunez was also told by the Rockies he’ll play either third base or shortstop.
Nunez batted .390 for the Sac-Joaquin Section champion Herd in 2013. He had four homers, five triples, seven doubles and drove in 37 runs. He started all four years at Elk Grove. This past season he played most of his games at catcher after playing shortstop and third base much of the previous three years.
"I've grown up playing shortstop most of my life," said Nunez told the Bee. "I only played catcher this season to help my team win a section title."
“He isn't especially toolsy, but Nunez plays above his talent level, thanks to his feel for the game,” wrote the MLB Draft Central. “He has a good approach as a hitter and provides gap power but probably won't ever be much of a power hitter. He is still learning behind the plate, but is eager to improve.”
His selection in in the sixth round is the second-highest any Elk Grove player has been taken in the draft after graduation from high school. In 2011 J.D. Davis was a fifth round pick by Tampa Bay. Davis did not sign and is now playing for Fullerton State.
Linehan was 3-7 with a 5.90 ERA this year for Fresno State. At Sheldon he was a four-year starter, also playing first base for the Huskies.
“Linehan had a disappointing season at Fresno St. after moving between the rotation and the bullpen and struggling to find any consistency,” wrote MLB Draft Central. “He still has good potential, however, because of two good pitches in his fastball and curveball. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has good cutting action to it while his curveball has late, sharp downward action. If Linehan can become more consistent and add a third pitch, he could become a solid value for whatever team drafts him.”
His Bulldog teammate, Aaron Judge, a 6-7 centerfielder with great power potential, was taken in the first round Thursday by the New York Yankees.
Selected on the third day was Oregon State catcher Jake Rodriguez. He was taken by the Astros to lead off the 19th round. He was the 557th player overall drafted.
Following his high school days at Elk Grove in 2010 Rodriguez was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 11th round, but turned down the offer to go to college.
|Ore. State's Jake Rodriguez|
He was named to the All-Pac 12 first team this past spring. Rodriguez threw out 67 percent of all base stealers this year from behind the plate. He batted .272 this year with two homers and 32 RBI’s.
Going undrafted was Pleasant Grove’s centerfielder and pitcher Josh Adams. He was rated in the top 500 draft prospects by Baseball America. Adams will attend UC – Santa Barbara next year.
This year the MLB Draft was staged over three days. Rounds one and two were on Thursday evening. Selection for rounds three through ten were on Friday. On Saturday rounds 11 through 40 were chosen.
The MLB Draft, held each June, selects players who have just graduated from high school or collegiate players who have completed three or more years of play.
The highest any Elk Grove-area player has been drafted was in 2007 when former Laguna Creek outfielder Casey Weathers was taken in the first round by the Colorado Rockies. At Sacramento City College Weathers became a pitcher and did so well that he attended Vanderbilt on scholarship.
Weathers was the eighth overall selection in 2007. His Vanderbilt teammate David Price, also a pitcher, was the top draft choice that year and he was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Weathers is pitching in the Chicago Cubs’ organization.