Kansas City Monarchs are getting a lift from this pitcher (and former outfielder)

On a Kansas City Monarchs team filled with talent, Nate Tellier’s name doesn’t exactly jump off the roster. The 5-foot-9 Massachusetts native is the only Monarchs pitcher who hasn’t thrown in Double-A.

But overlooking the right-hander would be a big mistake.

Playing multiple roles, Tellier has earned a 2.11 ERA in nine appearances to start the 2024 season. He’s struck out 17 and walked just five in 17 innings.

Not bad for a player who didn’t take pitching seriously until a few years ago.

Tellier played college baseball at Division III UMass-Dartmouth. But he spent far more time playing center field than toeing the rubber.

“I wasn’t much of a pitcher in college,” Tellier said. “I went in at the end of the game and threw as hard as I could.”

Tellier batted .342 for his college career, including a .382 average and 1.028 OPS as a sophomore in 2018. But his coach told him pitching would be his best path to pro baseball.

“Of course I liked playing the field more, but it was understandable,” Tellier said. “I threw hard, I didn’t hit with too much power, so if I was going to make it at the next level I did have to make a decision.”

The pandemic cut short Tellier’s senior year of college, leaving him looking for pro opportunities.

After a strong start in the Futures League, one of the few wood-bat leagues still running at the time, a New York Yankees scout invited him to a scrimmage between potential Yankees and Red Sox prospects.

Tellier had to wait to take the mound, throwing the 10th inning of the scrimmage. But he didn’t disappoint, striking out all three batters he faced and touching 98 mph with his fastball.

Shortly afterward, a scout from the Red Sox reached out and offered Tellier a pro contract.

For Tellier, who grew up a Red Sox fan, the moment was a dream come true.

“We sat down and talked in my backyard. My mom was about an hour away working,” he said. “I told her ‘He’s got a contract for me,’ and I swear she made it home in 30 minutes. She sped home.”

Tellier spent 2023 in High-A in the Red Sox system before heading to the Monarchs for 2024. He’s part of a stacked bullpen that is helping the reigning league champions contend for another playoff spot.

“This bullpen is probably the best bullpen I’ve been a part of. No matter the situation, 90% of the time we’re going to get three outs,” Tellier said.

The admiration is mutual.

“I talk to Nate about it all the time, he’s so valuable for this team,” said Monarchs ace Grant Gavin, a returner from last year’s championship team. “He just shoves it in the strike zone, and they’re not hitting him.”

As usual, Tellier won’t get much warning before making his next appearance in a Monarchs uniform. But it’s certain he’ll be ready for the challenge.