When you are a top pitching prospect for the Atlanta Braves, a lot of pressure is laid upon your shoulders–or more accurately, your arm. Julio Teheran, a 22-year-old right-hander, was touted as one of the brightest pitching prospects in the Braves farm system, but up until now he had only shown small flashes of what the club had expected of him.
Teheran struggled in 2012, posting a 5.08 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett, and with the few spot starts he made in the majors, he looked largely unimpressive. Despite the calls by some to trade Teheran while he still had some value, the Braves chose to remain patient and give their young budding star a chance to develop.
It looks like that patience may have paid off, as Teheran is likely to lock down the fifth spot in the Braves starting rotation this year.
Coming out of this past Tuesday’s start, Teheran has pitched 14 innings and allowed just two runs and eight base runners while striking out 18. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves are very pleased with Teheran’s progress and love what they are seeing out of his sinker, a pitch that the club had him focus on during the Dominican Winter League.
The sinker is that elusive third pitch that the Braves have been trying to find to add to Teheran’s arsenal to go with his fastball and change-up. Teheran’s breaking balls–the slider and curve–have never really been successful for him, so the sinkerball has now given him an option outside of his two best pitches.
Having Teheran make the leap to the big club and be successful will be key for the Braves rotation this year, with right-hander Brandon Beachy–who is recovering from Tommy John surgery–not expected back until the second half of the season at the earliest, and with the loss of starters Tommy Hanson and Randall Delgado in off-season trades.
The Braves still have left-hander Sean Gilmartin, their first-round pick in 2011, to look at as well. Gilmartin leapt all the way to Triple-A during first full year as a pro, and having another young gun in waiting could provide a little extra motivation for Teheran as well.