Julio Teheran has evolved into much more than the No. 5 starter for the Atlanta Braves.
The right-hander began in that slot when the season started but has worked his way up in the pecking order. And now that veteran Tim Hudson is gone for the season, Teheran may just be considered the team's second-best pitcher behind Mike Minor.
Two years ago the native of Colombia was considered the organization's top pitching prospect. He went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA for Triple-A Gwinnett and went 1-1 in three emergency starts for Atlanta.
But Teheran took a step backward in 2012, going 7-9 with a 5.08 ERA in 26 starts for Gwinnett. His strikeouts were down (from 122 to 97) and his home runs allowed were up (from five to 15). But when it came time to trade a young pitcher for some offense, the club opted to protect Teheran and trade Randall Delgado.
Teheran has rewarded the Braves' patience and shown why he was considered the organization's top prospect by Baseball America. He had an outstanding Grapefruit League and has continued to build on that success.
Teheran (8-5) made his 21st start on Thursday against Colorado, notching his third consecutive win by recording 11 strikeouts.
"Julio wasn't as sharp as he's been, but he battled," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
His consistency has been remarkable for a rookie. He has pitched at least five innings in each of his 21 starts. Teheran has allowed no more than five runs and four times has left the game without allowing a run. He has posted double-digit strikeouts three times and has not walked more than three hitters in any appearance.
Colorado could attest to his success, even before Thursday night. On April 23 at Coors Field, Teheran allowed only one run and eight hits over seven innings to earn his first victory of the season.