Rowdy Tellez is our Player of the Year.
He is holding a Wright & Ditson "Ryan" model bat that is nearly 100 years
old and part of the Alan O'Connor collection. Tellez is strong enough to swing
the nearly 40-ounce bat.
Almost no one calls Tellez by his first name (Ryan) any more, but there aren’t
many in this area that don’t refer to him as the best player in the high school ranks. And,
he’s just a junior. For that reason, BaseballSacramento.com has chosen Rowdy Tellez as our Player of the
In 2012, he compiled an impressive combination of batting average and
power numbers. Tellez’ regular season numbers were: .587 batting average (3rd), 46
RBI (1st), 6 home runs (tied for 2nd), 1.103 slugging percentage
(4th) and .673 on-base percentage (1st). If he had converted just one
more at-bat into a hit, he would have tied Grant
Heisinger at .600 for the area batting title.
After being named “Sophomore of the Year” in the state by Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN
in 2011, Tellez now becomes the third consecutive Elk Grove High player to earn “best player”
status in the greater Sacramento area. Last year, that went to senior J.D. Davis (now at Cal State Fullerton) and the year
before it was Jake Rodriguez (Oregon State).
Quite a compliment for Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson and his staff.
Carlson deflects the praise, instead shining it back on three-year varsity
“Rowdy is an unusually strong kid, but he has the work ethic those other guys
(Davis and Rodriguez) did and that’s important. He keeps developing every year,” he says.
“Sky’s the limit for him.”
A power slugger since his freshman year, Tellez hit some shots this year that
will linger in local lore for a long time. In a driving rain at Raley Field earlier this
year, he hit a bomb that landed near the top of the right-field berm (approximately 425 feet
as measured by the author and Zak Basch, River Cats PR guy). It’s a poke that has eluded most
Triple-A players in the 13-year history of the ballpark. Similarly, last year at the Area
Codes Games in Stockton, during batting practice Tellez hit one ball over the “Back Porch”
beyond the right field wall at Banner Island Ballpark (estimated at 420 feet).
In a Delta Valley Conference game at Davis Tellez smashed a majestic grand
slam over the right-centerfield wall against the Blue Devils ace pitcher Ben Eckels that was
reminiscent of the titanic battle in 1966 between the area’s best hitter versus the top
pitcher: Grant’s Leron Lee and
McClatchy’s Pat Fall that people still talk about today (See Time Travelin' 1966 in History section).
Carlson notes that pitchers consistently stay away from Tellez’ power. “Guy’s
are pitching him away soft, but he’s stayed up the middle, gone the other way and done a good
job of hitting the ball on a line.” Which is exactly what Tellez told us he was trying to do
just after the Davis grand slam. “It’s hard for young hitters to buy into that,” Carlson
notes. “That’s what sets him apart right now. He’s got that mental mindset of taking that
type of approach to the plate. That’s going to make him put up the numbers that he
Tellez having fun by showing off his bunting form, a rare pose
for the Herd's slugger.
Rob Rinaldi of Pleasant Grove and the newly-crowned Delta
River League champions, was asked prior to the Division I high school playoffs how he would
try to get Tellez out if the teams met (didn't happen, as PG was beaten in its first
game). “He’s hitting .600 (sic actually .587) so no one’s figured out how to get him out.”
Rinaldi said Tellez is “…as good a hitter that I’ve seen since Tony
Torcato,” who Rinaldi coached at Woodland High. The Giants selected Torcato in the
first-round of the 1998 draft. “But Tony didn’t have the sheer power that Tellez does,”
One area scout recently commented, "If you didn't know he was a high school
kid, and you put him on a Triple-A field with all the other prospects, with his size and
power, right now, you'd think 'Yeah, he belongs out there.' He's a man-child."
The only area on the ballfield where Tellez doesn’t dominate is on the mound.
As a pitcher, he’s kept his team in many games, but his 1-3-1 pitching record and 3.00 ERA
pale by comparison to his hitting stats.
In 2012, Rowdy led Elk Grove to a co-championship of the Delta Valley
Conference with a 12-3 record (19-7 Overall).
Last year Tellez gave University of Southern California a verbal
commitment to play for the Trojans in the 2014 baseball season.
If he continues to perform in his senior season at Elk Grove, Tellez will
undoubtedly be a high-draft selection in 2013, possibly another first-rounder from the
Sidebar: For The Love of the Game
Tellez, above, striking a pose reminiscent of a young Babe Ruth.
He's just hit a grand slam off of Davis High ace, Ben Eckels.
Unlike many of the area’s top talents, Ryan Tellez didn’t have an older
brother or a father who played pro ball to guide him to a successful path in baseball. But
when asked who were his influences, he smiles and proudly points to his dad, Greg Tellez, who
taught him not only the love of the game but also his work ethic.
Greg grew up in South San Francisco, a few relay-throws away from Candlestick
Park. He’s a lifelong Giants fan, and passed along his love of baseball and the Giants in
particular to his son. “I wasn’t much of a player, not like this guy,” he says, proudly
pointing back to his only son (the Tellez’ also have a younger daughter).
In fact, Rowdy wears number 44 because of Willie McCovey, his favorite player
Huh? Must be the dad.
“All the great hitters wear number 44,” Tellez says during a photo shoot in
front of the Capitol. He proceeds to tick off a few: McCovey, Reggie Jackson. Hank
Boy knows his baseball.
And, that the best way to the major leagues is through hard work and
“(My dad) taught me to work hard and translate it to my game,” Rowdy says of
his father. Mother Lori has no small role in all of this, as she attends all his games and is
his loudest cheerleader.
“I always want to be the best player out there," Rowdy says. "I want to have
everyone come out to the field--the light’s on me—to see how hard I work.”
On the flip side, while Tellez doesn’t mind performing in the spotlight, he’s
got broad shoulders—literally—he’s the first to share his success with teammates. In
particular, Dom Nunez, a fellow junior and
three-year starter with the Thundering Herd, who Tellez playfully calls “my partner in
“If I didn’t have guys like Dom in front of me (in the batting lineup), it
would probably be a different outcome. That’s why you’ve got to give props to how he plays.”
Tellez launches into “inside baseball” to explain that for years now Nunez has served
as the table-setter in the Elk Grove lineup, getting on base ahead of him, providing Rowdy
opportunities that allow him to soak up that spotlight.
That recognition is old-school baseball. The lad is wise beyond his
Probably has the dad to thank (and the mom to remind him of
Stories and photos by Rick Cabral