Tomas Telis Scouting Report: Texas Ranger catcher Tomas Telis ranked #24 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 30 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 32, and who didn't get traded. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2014. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Tomas Telis...
Tomas Telis is a 23 year old, 5'8", 200 lb. switch-hitting catcher who was signed by the Rangers out of Venezuela in 2007. Amazingly, he's tied with Martin Perez as the player who has been in the organization the longest -- only Derek Holland, who was signed as a draft-and-follow in May, 2007, pre-dates Perez and Telis. I can't find any info on his signing bonus, and he didn't make his professional playing debut until 2008, when he had 62 games with the Rangers' DSL team, putting up a .299/.374/.380 slash line in 266 plate appearances.
Telis came to the States in 2009, and spent the 2009-10 seasons in short-season ball. mostly with the complex league team in the AZL. Telis put up a .324/.341/.453 slash line in 350 plate appearances in the AZL from 2009-10, as well as an 1150 OPS in 20 PAs in the Northwest League in 2009. Telis showed enough in the AZL in 2009 to be Baseball America's #16 prospect in the AZL after 2009, and the #26 prospect in the Rangers' system.
2011 saw Telis head to full season ball and perform well, putting up a .297/.329/.430 line in 494 plate appearances for low-A Hickory, and impressively, striking out just 35 times, showing solid contact skills. BA had Telis as the #25 prospect in the Rangers' system after the 2011 season, and Jamey Newberg had him ranked #28, between Zach Cone and Odubel Herrera.
The next two seasons, however, saw Telis go backwards in terms of his offensive performance. Telis put up a disappointing .247/.283/.331 line for high-A Myrtle Beach in 2012, and followed that up with a .264/.290/.353 line for AA Frisco in 2013. His throwing improved -- after throwing out just 23% of basestealers in 2011, he gunned down 36% and 32% in 2012 and 2013 -- but nevertheless, the offense was disappointing, and Telis's stock dropped to the point where he was considered more of a fringe prospect than anything else.
2014 was going to be a key season for Telis and the Rangers, as the Rangers were going to have to add him to the 40 man roster at the end of the year, or else Telis would be a minor league free agent and eligible to sign elsewhere. Telis made that decision moot, however, performing well enough to not just be added to the 40 man roster, but earn a callup to the majors in late August when Geovany Soto was traded. Telis was back in Frisco to start the season and hit more like he did earlier in his career, putting up a .303/.339/.401 slash line to earn a mid-summer promotion to AAA Round Rock. Telis turned it up once he got to the PCL, hitting .345/.377/.489, before making it to Arlington. Telis put up a .250/.271/.279 line in 71 plate appearances over the final five weeks of the major league season.
Telis is an interesting guy...he doesn't turn 24 until June, and switch-hitting catchers who can make good contact aren't exactly falling out of trees. Telis is not going to walk or strike out much, nor is he going to hit for much power, and so there's potentially a lot of season-to-season variability with him, given his reliance on BABIP.
Tepid had a lengthy write-up on Telis last year, and what he wrote then still stands...Telis is someone who profiles as a potential major league backup, who could end up as a starter if his defense continues to improve and he hits a little more. For 2015, Telis was be in AAA as the organization's third catcher, the guy who will get called up if Robinson Chirinos or Carlos Corporan get dinged up and are going to miss some time. While Jorge Alfaro is the organization's catcher of the future, Telis is someone who still can provide value over the next several years as depth, or in a part-time role.