Tejeda Introduces Himself in Major League Camp

Spring training is sometimes an opportunity for young players to sort of introduce themselves to the major league manager and coaches. Some stumble when given the chance to face major league hitters even in a spring atmosphere. For Rob Tejeda though, there has been no stumbling in his introduction to the Phillies major league staff.

Call him Rob, call him Robinson, call him whatever. He wasn't known much at all coming into Phillies camp this spring, but suddenly, Rob Tejeda is starting to get some attention. The 22 year old - he turns 23 on March 24 - has been impressive this spring in a limited role with the Phillies big league club. That's not to say that he's going to make the club or even come close, but the good news is that Tejeda appears ready to make some key moves through the upper levels of the Phillies system.

Tejeda didn't have an overly successful stint at Reading in 2004. The right-hander went 8-14, 5.15 for the R-Phils in 27 games, 26 of which were starts. In 2002, Tejeda was sidelined for a good part of the season with elbow inflammation that kept recurring. By mid-July, Tejeda was shut down for the rest of the season and finished with a 4-8, 3.97 record with Clearwater. The following season, the Phillies kept Tejeda in the warmth of Clearwater until close to Memorial Day when they sent him to Lakewood to make five starts there. It had been predetermined that as long as he was healthy, Tejeda would be moved back to Clearwater before too long. It's a good thing that was the determination, because Tejeda wasn't overly impressive at Lakewood, but seemed to pick it up a notch when he arrived back in Clearwater. With his down season in 2004, it again appeared that Tejeda was sputtering.

The Phillies didn't want to risk losing Tejeda, so they added him to the 40 man roster and brought him to major league camp. Almost from day one, Tejeda seemed to have good movement on his pitches and was impressive in his side sessions. From there, was somewhat of an emergency insertion into a game against the Boston Red Sox. Highly touted Keith Bucktrot was taking a beating and Tejeda, who was a possibility to pitch one inning, came on to pitch. He wound up pitching 1 2/3 innings and shut down the Red Sox lineup with seemingly little difficulty. He shuffled between blowing pitches by hitters and then making them swing weakly at change-ups and curves. He did the same thing Saturday when he came on against the Atlanta Braves. With Pedro Liriano, Edwin Moreno and Bucktrot all getting hit around by the Braves, Tejeda became a steadying influence on the mound. Again, he mixed his pitches well and kept hitters off stride. Defensive gaffes behind him didn't deter him, even when errors by Jim Deschaine and Juan Richardson resulted in an unearned run. For his part, Tejeda simply continued to work hitters, giving up no hits and striking out two in his two innings of work.

Career - Minors 25 46 4.22 0 108 97 2 569.1 510 308 267 243 495
2005 Spring 0 0 0.00 0 2 0 0 3.2 0 1 0 1 5

Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in November, 1998.

Pitching: Tejeda throws the basic pitches, but his change-up has seemed to have improved over the winter and is looking more and more like it may be an impressive pitch for him. Even though he struggled a little in 2004, he struck out 133 in 150.1 innings of work. He has the ability to strike out a good amount of hitters, but also generally keeps the ball down in the zone. His location up and down was his downfall at Reading last season as he surrendered 29 homeruns. He will have to rely more on keeping the ball down on hitters as he progresses through the higher levels.

Projection: With the impressive spring the Tejeda is having, the Phillies may overlook his AA struggles of 2004 and move him along to AAA Scranton for this season. That's not written in stone though. They may want him to show some success at Reading before having him make the jump. In the long-term, Tejeda has the ability to be a middle of the rotation pitcher if all goes well.

ETA: It's likely to be 2007 before Tejeda gets a real good look at a full-time major league job. He may see some major league work in 2006, but that would likely come only on a temporary basis to cover an injury or possibly only as a September call-up. Now that he's on the major league roster, the Phillies will push Tejeda a little harder to be sure he's worthy of the roster spot.

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