Time for Julio Teheran to Grow Up in the Atlanta Braves Rotation

The Highly Touted Prospect Will Finally Have His Chance to Prove He Belongs in the Major Leagues

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | For the past three years Atlanta Braves right-handed pitching prospect Julio Teheran has been labeled as one of the top young pitching talents in the game.

In 2011 and 2012 you could find Teheran in the top five of almost every prospect ranking list.

By 2010 he had already moved up to Double-A in the Braves organization as 19-year-old and posted an ERA of 3.38 in seven starts, striking out 38 in 40 innings.

At 20 he began the 2011 season at Triple-A where he was named MiLB.com's Triple-A Starting Pitcher of the Year after going 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 144 and 2/3 innings pitched.

In that same year he also made his professional debut, pitching in five games for the big-league club -- including three starts -- but was greeted rudely giving up 11 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings.

Digression

Coming in to the 2012 season Teheran had a chance to win the fifth spot in the Braves rotation, but a horrible spring prompted the Braves to give him more time to develop in the minor leagues.

Whether that disappointment had anything to do with his performance, I don't know, but something clearly went wrong as he had an ERA over five in 2012 making 26 starts in Triple-A.

Despite his struggles, the Braves still needed him due to injuries during the season, and he was called up in June to make a start, which didn't go great as he only lasted 4 1/3 innings after giving up four runs. He also made a relief appearance in the last game of the season.

His 2012 performance led to him being dropped in the rankings and lessened the praise he once received from top scouts. This year you'll find Teheran ranked in the 30s on most prospect lists. What a difference a year can make.

Moving forward

Although some have soured on the 22-year-old, the Braves still see him as a top-of-the-rotation starter someday. That was made more evident by the fact they included Randall Delgado in the deal for Justin Upton instead of Teheran.

That trade cleared the way for him to lock up the fifth spot in the Braves rotation to start the season.

The Braves were also impressed by his work in the Dominican Winter League this offseason. He finished with a 3.23 ERA in seven starts, throwing 30 2/3 innings. In his last three starts he only allowed two hits and struck out 15 in 16 2/3 innings.

Clearly the once highly sought after prospect still has the ability to become a good starter in the major leagues.

As teams begin to prepare for spring training, it will be interesting to see how his development continues. By trading Delgado and having minimal competition, hopefully Teheran will be able to relax and show the potential that put him at the top of all those prospect lists.

At 22 he is still considered young in baseball, but it's time for him to step up and prove that he can handle major-league hitting. This will be the best opportunity for Teheran, and with Brandon Beachy set to come back midseason, he'll have to establish himself as a reliable starter in order to keep a spot in the rotation.

It's time for Teheran to give Braves fans what they've been looking for, and that's an ace that can hold this rotation together. While I don't expect him to complete that task in 2013, the transformation process definitely needs to take place now.

Jake Mastroianni has written for several websites pertaining to the Braves and baseball in general. He also has experience working in media relations for minor league baseball, as well as at the collegiate level.

All stats and figures courtesy of baseball-reference.com and mlb.com.

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