It didn’t take long for Rowdy Tellez to make his presence felt with the Buffalo Bisons.
In his first two at bats in Triple-A baseball he had two home runs.
Impressive, even for a player who was an all-star in Double-A last year and is one of the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospects. The Bisons defeated the Scranton/Wilkes Bar Railriders in their season opener on Saturday 4-2 in no small part due to Tellez’s bat.
But Buffalo manager Bobby Meacham wants to make sure first day success doesn’t change Tellez’s approach at the plate.
“He’s a hitter first, he’s just developing his power,” said Meacham after the game. “Hopefully he doesn’t think home run, he thinks drive it the other way and it’ll happen.”
Tellez batted .287/.387/.530 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats last year and if a move up to the International League put added pressure on him he showed no signs of it.
“(Triple-A) is all the same. I’m fortunate enough to play the game for a living,” said Tellez following the game. “I did everything I preach as a hitter.”
Tellez isn’t the only position player to be promoted to Triple-A this spring from New Hampshire.
Four fellow 2016 Fisher Cats teammates have also joined him: outfielders Ian Parmley and Dwight Smith and infielders Jason Leblebijian and Christian Lopes. Several members of an excellent 2016 New Hampshire bullpen have also broken camp with the Bisons, including Danny Barnes, Chris Smith, John Stilson, Wil Browning and Chad Girodo.
Leblebijian and Smith were both opening day starters, playing third and right field respectively, and were solid defensively, making difficult plays look easy throughout the game.
“The defence was outstanding,” said Meacham, who also managed the Fisher Cats last year. “You can see the defense talking to each other and making good plays. So very important for our pitching staff to have these guys pitch to contact so our defense can play good behind them.”
Smith and Leblebijian also helped manufacture the non-Tellez related runs with solid hitting.
Smith batted eighth on Saturday going two-for-three with a strikeout and a run while Leblebijian batted ninth and was one-for two with a walk and a run.
Both players had good offensive numbers in 2016 and could be solid contributors at the plate despite being relative unknowns.
Smith is a former first round draft pick and batted .265/.332/.433 with 15 home runs in 126 games with the Fisher Cats last year.
Leblebijian, who was drafted in the 25th round in 2012, hit .293/.359/.448 with seven home runs last year with New Hampshire in just half a season.
Pitching notes from the Opener
With the Toronto Blue Jays off to a rough start pitching depth in Buffalo will continue to be a concern moving forward.
Jarrett Grube made the Opening Day start for Buffalo on short notice after Casey Lawrence was called up to the big leagues and pitched five innings allowing two runs on six hits with three walks in front of stellar defence.
The relief pitching was also solid and only allowed one hit off of Leonel Campos in the sixth inning before Chad Girodo and Danny Barnes combined for three clean innings, recording no walks and no hits, with Barnes recording the save.
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