From waiting on a late blind date to waiting for the car in front of you to hit the gas at a green light to waiting for the loud chewer next to you to run out of popcorn in the movies, there are some things every American hates being patient for. Since his ridiculous month of May in which he hit .344 while the likes of Jeff Mathis was building to his current pace of just .222/.261/.483 line and Chris Johnson was barely managing to hit .237 and while the likes of Don Kelly, a .223/.288/.273 AAA hitter this year and Yefri Perez who has played zero games above AA were rewarded with roster spots, every Marlins fan with a knowledge of the minors felt the same way when it came to waiting for Tomas Telis to be called up. Their patience, including my own, were finally rewarded on Friday when Telis joined the Marlins for the second time, taking the roster spot of Justin Nicolino who was sent back to New Orleans.
I recapped Telis’ career leading up to this season earlier this month as part of my May Prospect of the Month write-up. For those details, give this a click.
To sum his career to this point up, which is a bit longer than most guys who just turned 25 thanks to him starting his career at 17 after being signed out of Venezuela, he is the latest product of the Texas Rangers’ rich tradition of scouting and signing quality catching help. The organization which once drafted future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, held the likes of the game’s top three catching prospects Max Ramirez, Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the same 40-man, and which currently owns Brett Nicholas, the best hitting catcher in AAA (.303/.380/.514) brought Telis to the American major league scene in 2008. After a .317/.328/.434 start to his career in the Dominican affiliated league, short season single A and the Arizona Fall League, Telis came to full season ball in 2011. For the next three years, he jumped a level with each passing year, reaching AAA as a 23-year-old before receiving his first major league call up at the end of 2014. His Marlins career began during that offseason when the Marlins gave up quality pitching help in reliever Sam Dyson to acquire him.
This season, Telis has proven well worth that kind of investment as he has enjoyed his best season at the highest level of the minors. Aided by the second best full month of his career above rookie ball, a .344/.394/.508 June, piggybacking a .325/.438/.375 April and thus an overall .337/.420/.455 start to his season and a 14 RBI month of June, his third best run providing month in full season ball, Telis has become arguably the best all-around hitting catcher in the Pacific Coast League by way of a .311/.363/.413 overall slash line, 27 RBI, a 16/25 BB/K, and 13 XBH. The switch hitter has enjoyed sustained success against both lefties and righties slugging over .400 against both and batting well over .300 vs lefties very close to it vs righties, whom he has faced more frequently. He comes to the Marlins in the midst of an 18-56 run (.321/.360/.393) since June 19th.
A stout 5’8″ 220, Telis gets low in the box and minimizes a strike zone that he has good working knowledge of. While he isn’t a guy that is going to reach via walks a lot, he also will not strike out much thanks to a quick bat produced by good mechanics including soft hands that get horizontal quickly, elbows which he keeps pointed down toward the ball and a head which stays in a stationary downward position all the way through the ball. Due to limited size and strength, Telis isn’t a guy who is going to hit a lot of balls over the wall. But his knack for finding the barrel of the bat and surprisingly above average speed especially for a backstop makes him an XBH threat and a great for-average hitter that limits Ks and makes for a great bottom of the order candidate plenty capable of turning the lineup back over. On top of average defense behind the plate (32% CS% this year and 42% for his career), Telis, at his present, provides a solid platoon bat for J.T. Realmuto who is hitting just .167 vs LHP and a solid fill in fot Justin Bour who is on the DL, against righties, especially considering Chris Johnson is OPSing just .644 against them over the course of his past three seasons. Have the Marlins finally realized the value Telis provides to the current situation of this team, which is trying to stay in the wildcard hunt? Only time will tell. If not, I’ll be back with an update in the coming days.
UPDATE: As feared, Telis has been sent back to the minors in favor of Yefri Perez, who has never played a game above AA and who struck out 125 times last year as a member of the Jupiter Hammerheads. Although Perez was off to a much improved start to the year this year with the Jacksonville Suns and is the fastest man this organization has ever seen, the fact the Marlins sacrificed a quality switch hitting bat for him can only suggest to me that the Marlins do not think very highly of Telis, especially considering the likes of Kelly and Johnson remain with the team. It would not surprise me at all to see Telis traded as part of a package to bring back a back end starting pitcher before the trade deadline, nor would it surprise me to see Telis go on to bigger and better things as a type B prospect.