SportStars Magazine

Rowdy Debut: Elk Grove’s Tellez Hits The Bigs

Rowdy Tellez, Blue Jays, Elk Grove

Elk Grove Alum Rowdy Tellez Doubles On The First Pitch Of His Major League Debut; Gives Tribute To Recently Deceased Mom •

It should come as no surprise that Elk Grove alum Rowdy Tellez came out swinging in his Major League Baseball debut.

Rowdy Tellez, Blue Jays, Elk Grove

Rowdy Tellez stands in the on deck circle timing the pitcher during his days at Elk Grove. (James Leash photo). AT TOP: Tellez follows through on his first Major League hit on Sept. 5. (Gerry Angus/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

The September call-up to the Toronto Blue Jays, who drafted the Thundering Herd product in the 30th round of the 2013 draft, entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays and promptly recorded his first major league hit and RBI by ripping the first pitch he saw into the right-center field gap.

“He’s a hitter,” said a proud Jeff Carlson, who coached Tellez at Elk Grove from 2010-13. “Rowdy has hit his whole life. I think he came out of the womb with a bat in his hands, and he has hit at every level.”

The moment came in the midst of a 10-3 win for the Blue Jays and had even more meaning for the Elk Grove product. The call-up and milestone came a little more than two weeks after Tellez’s mother, Lori, lost her battle with cancer. After reaching second base and gathereing himself, he pointed to the sky as a tribute to his late mother.

“I couldn’t be happier for him, especially after all that he has been through,” Carlson added. “What a great moment for him and his family. It brought tears to my eyes when I watched that clip and saw him point to the sky.”

In a four-year varsity career, Tellez had 176 hits, 27 home runs, 76 extra-base hits and 176 RBI to go with a .477 batting average. The Thundering Herd won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I North title during his freshman campaign. Elk Grove finally captured the SJS Div. I championship in his final high school season.


“He stepped up to the moment and the baseball gods shined on him,” Carlson said. “It’s a great feeling for him to know that he’s made it after working so hard and going through so much.”

In a cool twist, the play-by-play call of Tellez’s first MLB hit was made by Buck Martinez — a fellow Elk Grove alum and former Toronto Blue Jay.

A Herd Of Talent

Rowdy Tellez, Blue Jays, Elk Grove

Tellez flashes a big grin in the midst of Elk Grove’s 2013 section championship celebration. (James K. Leash photo.)

Rowdy Tellez’s MLB debut was just the latest in a long line of achievements by Elk Grove baseball alumni. Nick Madrigal, a teammate of Tellez on the 2013 section championship team, was the captain on Oregon State’s College World Series championship team. The Beavers won the CWS just weeks after Madrigal was the No. 4 overall pick in the June Amateur Draft.

Tellez also played for the Bercovich Gold Collegiate team headed by Headfirst Baseball Academy. In the last two years, Headfirst has had four former players reach the Major Leagues.

Darold Brown, a scout whose known and mentored Tellez for several years, brought him to Headfirst before the June 2013 draft. Headfirst’s Mario Iglesias threw him batting practice in front of Blue Jay representatives. The deal was done.

Michael Iglesias says of Tellez: “He’s a very hard-working, very humble player and we’re extremely proud of him… and that we’ve been a part of his life journey.”

Additionally, Dylan Carlson, Jeff Carlson’s son, had a successful season with the single-A Palm Beach Cardinals. His season just ended with a tough loss in the Florida State League Championship Series.

Other Thundering Herd alumni playing in The Show this year include David Freitas (Seattle Mariners), J.D. Davis (Houston Astros) and David Hernandez (Cincinnati Reds).

VCA’s Cordell Called Up to Bigs

Ryan Cordell of Valley Christian Academy-Roseville was called up to the Chicago White Sox on September 3. On his first day in the big leagues, the outfielder entered as a pinch runner in the ninth inning. With Sox tied 2-2 with the Detroit Tigers, Cordell represented the winning run. He scored when teammate Matt Davidson hit a walk-off home run.

Cordell was selected in the 11th round by the Texas Rangers in the same 2013 draft Tellez was picked 19 rounds later. The prospect played five minor league seasons for affiliates of the Rangers, Brewers and White Sox. He battled recent injuries to finally get his shot.

“It shows that it doesn’t matter where you go to school to play,” said Brad Gunter, Jr., head baseball coach and Athletic Director at VCA. “If you are a great person with a great work ethic—and catch a break or two—that you can make it to the big leagues.”

Gunter has had three players drafted, and foresees a return of the Sacramento region to the status of baseball hotbed. But the coach expressed more excitement for Cordell making it than for his program producing its first player in MLB.

“More than anything, I am ecstatic for my guy,” he said. “He is genuinely a better person than he is a baseball player, and he is a pretty darn good baseball player.”

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