The first thing Rowdy Tellez did Friday afternoon after signing a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays for a record signing bonus was exhale.
Then the recently graduated Elk Grove High School slugger and two-time Bee Player of the Year hugged all comers parents Greg and Lori, sister Amy, scores of friends and adviser Phil Ortiz. Tears of joy and profound relief were shared.
Tellez signed for $850,000, the most for anyone drafted lower than the 10th round in the new system.
A projected first or second-round pick known for his sweet left-handed swing and prodigious power, Tellez slipped to the 30th round of the June draft, in part because his family and advisers were firm on a signing bonus figure in excess of $1 million. The Blue Jays reached a deal with the national deadline looming for prospects who also have signed with a college. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Tellez was ready to go to USC on scholarship.
Today, Tellez said he will celebrate with his family and friends. And he'll pack. Sunday, Tellez flies to Dunedin, Fla., to play for the Blue Jays' Gulf Coast League team. He was told he would be in the starting lineup Monday.
"It all worked out, a win-win for everyone," Tellez said. "The one thing I learned about the business of baseball is that it doesn't always matter what round or number you get drafted in after the first (round).
"I was ready to walk away (from negotiations) and be happy at USC, but it worked out. Now it's time to flip a new page and go to work."
Shortly after signing, and before phoning friends, Tellez hustled over to his grandmother's house. Frances Tellez, 93, offered a shriek of joy, a hug, and then an order.
"She had me move a table," Tellez said with a laugh.
Grandma wanted to use that available muscle to rearrange furniture. Tellez said his grandmother is the rock for his family.
"I've never seen her cry before in all my 18 years, but she began crying when I told her the news because she was so happy," Tellez said. "She used to live in the worst part in the Bay Area for years, in Hunters Point. It was tough, and they were poor. But she's so proud to see how well her kids have done, and her grandkids, and now she has a professional athlete in the family."
Tellez batted .500 as a senior with 46 RBIs and nine home runs for a team that won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title. He set a section record with 176 career RBIs.
Area coaches have called Tellez as fine a hitter as this area has produced in decades. Tellez once hit a home run that cleared the right-field berm at Raley Field. In working out for the Mariners on the eve of the draft, Tellez sent a batting practice shot into the seats well beyond deep center at Seattle's Safeco Field.
Elk Grove coach Jeff Carslon said of Tellez, "it's mind boggling what he's done." Now the next step.
"I'm proud, but not satisfied," Tellez said. "I have a game Monday. It's time to play."
Also signing this past week was Oregon State right-handed pitcher Dan Child (Jesuit High) for $100,000. He was an 18th-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies.