08/07/12 7:50 PM ET
At Area Code Games, Tellez making name known
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
"We didn't know the sex and we didn't want to know, and we stayed away from calling him 'Baby' or 'It,'" Greg said. "But he was so active in there, moving around all of the time in the womb, that we ended up calling him 'Baby Rowdy,' and it stuck. Now he's just 'Rowdy' and that's how everybody knows him."
Ryan "Rowdy" Tellez is only 17, but the 6-foot-4, 230-pound teenage slugger has already made a name for himself in amateur baseball circles. The first baseman/designated hitter is considered one of the top high school hitting prospects in the country and is one of the many prospects playing in the 2012 Area Code Baseball Games this week at Long Beach State's Blair Field.
Tellez plays for the Oakland Athletics, a team made up of the top high school players from Northern California. The rest of the field is made up of the Kansas City Royals (Northwest region), Texas Rangers (Texas and Louisiana), Cincinnati Reds (Four Corners and Hawaii), Chicago White Sox (Midwest region), Milwaukee Brewers (Southern California), New York Yankees (Northeast region) and the Washington Nationals (Southeast region and Virginia).
"To play against the top people in the country is amazing," Tellez said. "And to do it for the second year in a row is an incredible honor. I'm going to keep giving it my all."
Tellez has been busy. He played in the Perfect Game National showcase last month and won the event's home run derby. He's scheduled to play in the All-American Game at Petco Park in San Diego on Sunday and head back home for the start of classes at Elk Grove High School four days later.
Last season, Tellez hit .568 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs as a junior for the Thundering Herd. He has already committed to play baseball at USC, but he could be a top selection in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
"I just want baseball to take me where it takes me," Tellez said. "If it takes me to the pro side of the game, that's fine, or if it takes me to college, that's fine, too. We'll see where it takes me. If you do good at Area Code Games and showcases like this, you can have a future so we'll see."
Tellez's path to the Area Code Baseball Games started on a dirt track outside of Sacramento. The prospect said he was riding a motorcycle by the age of 3, and as the story goes, rocking Rowdy could ride a dirt bike before he could talk or read.
But as Tellez got bigger, the bike seemed smaller, and by age 10, his racing days were over. Baseball, the sport that Tellez once used to fill the time between races, became his No. 1 sport.
The choice changed his life.
"My dad raced and all of my good friends did, too, so that was awesome," Tellez said. "But the older I got, I think we all figured out that I had a better chance of not getting hurt and making a career in baseball than I did racing. But I do miss going fast out there, because now I'm one of the slowest ones out there on the field."
Tellez's power, not his speed on the bases, is what separates him from other high school prospects. Scouts say Tellez has an average arm, can play adequate defense, and his footwork at first base will improve with repetition. Moreover, learning to play a corner outfield position could serve him well leading up to next year's Draft while too much time at designated hitter definitely won't.
"I'm not going to put a lot of pressure on myself or let others put a lot of pressure on me," Tellez said. "I'm just going to have fun and put up my numbers, be part of a team. It's not an individual game, and we all have to do our part. That's all I'm going to think about."
Tellez knows that he will be the first member of his family to attend a major university if he chooses to attend USC. Greg, who works for Pacific Gas & Electric, and Amy, who works for the Elk Grove school district, both entered the workforce after graduating from high school.
They are trying not to put pressure on their son.
"It's just great that he is able to have these opportunities that baseball has given him," Greg said. "I think every kid that plays with a bat and ball, the dream is to play in MLB. But he also has opportunities on the educational side. We are going to talk about it, but ultimately, it's his decision."
Either way, Greg says the entire Tellez family will be happy with the slugger's choice, even those who can't recall Rowdy's real name.
"My mother, his grandma, has called him 'Rowdy' his whole life," Greg said. "We ask her, 'Hey Mom, what's Rowdy's real name?' and she always says, 'I don't know! It's Rowdy. Quit asking me that.'"