July 15, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves tomahawk member dances on the dugout during the game against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Nationals 11-1. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Early Projections: Position #1 PART 2


 

Star potential, ace material, top prospect…all these attributes describe the next key component to the Atlanta Braves 2013 starting pitching rotation.  He’s been a Baseball America top 5 prospect since 2011 and Atlanta’s top prospect.  He’s shown brilliance on the mound but has also showed a side Braves fans didn’t want to see.

 

March 19, 2012; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (27) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during the top of the sixth inning of a spring training game at Disney Wide World of Sports complex. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Teheran is my next probable starter to be slated into the 4th spot in the rotation.  Scouts have been saying that Teheran has top of the order stuff and this year will be the time to display those characteristics.  I see him excelling in spring training and jumping over Paul Maholm in the starting rotation.

This youngster (22 years old) has been dangling over fans like a piñata since he was 18 years old.  During his 19 year old season he jumped from A ball to high A to AA in one season striking out 159 batters in 142 innings.  Then the following year, 2011, he recorded another excel season having 15 wins and only 3 loses in AAA ball while having even better numbers.  After those back-to-back seasons, he catapulted into Atlanta fans living rooms everywhere.

But then 2012 came, Teheran showed up to Spring Training with a shot at making the big league rotation.  Many believed this was possible but he didn’t exactly show enough in Florida and was sent back to AAA ball.  The Braves coaching staff tried to alter his pitching delivery in 2012 and it showed it wasn’t working.  Teheran didn’t have the season most were expecting but with modifications to his delivery that he wasn’t used to and being almost bored in AAA, looking back I see why his numbers weren’t there.

All the pieces have fell out so Teheran would be the front-runner for a spot in the rotation.  During Winter play, the Braves coaching staff had told Julio to go back to his old delivery and now, supposedly, the velocity is back.  This Spring Training is Teheran’s time shine, with his mechanics back to where they were when he was “Ace potential” and his confidence back from Winter ball, I’m expecting a huge season for Julio Teheran.

 

Julio Teheran

Year Age IP GS W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
2011 20 19.2(144.2) 3 (24) 1 (15) 1 (3) 5.03 (2.55) 1.475 (1.182) 4.6 (7.6) 3.7 (3.0) 1.8 (.3)
2012 21 6.1 (131) 1 (26) 0  (7) 0 (9) 5.68 (5.08) .947 (1.443) 7.1 (6.7) 1.4 (3.0) 0.0 (1.2)
2013 22 148 24 9 7 3.98 1.383 6.6 2.2 1.1

**In parenthesis is his minor league stats.**

 

View my projected 5th starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves http://tomahawktake.com/2013/01/29/2013-early-projections-position-1-part-1/

 

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  • Lee Trocinski

    I wish I could be as optimistic as you are with him. Even before last season, I had a post on another site about signs of trouble ahead. https://saberanalysis.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/prospect-watch-julio-teheran/

  • Lee Trocinski

    (I forgot that we can’t link in the comments without moderation, so sorry for a possible double comment.)

    I wish I was as optimistic as you are about Teheran. Even before last year, I wrote a post about signs of concern for him.

    First, his stuff isn’t as great as many think. In his short Atlanta stint in ’11, his fastball had no sink, run, or life. Up here in WI, that’s called a Manny Parra fastball, and I promise you that’s not a good thing. Hitters will hit flat fastballs of any speed unless it’s located perfectly. His curve and change were above average, but not great, two years ago.

    He also showed iffy stat trends in the minors. Aside from his Myrtle Beach stint, he has never showed above-average control, and his K rate dropped quite a bit between A+ and AA, and a bit more from AA to AAA. He also had quite a bit of flyball luck in ’11, allowing only 5 HR when his batted ball profile would have predicted about 13.

    Spending this year in ATL, I’d expect a BB+HBP% at 10-11%, a bit higher than average, a K% around 20%, a tick above average, and a GB% at 37-39%, below average. That works out to around a 4.35 FIP, below-average but manageable.

    • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

      Agreed. Also, with Maholm you know what you are going to get. He’s nothing if not consistent, and gets a lot of ground balls which could be due to him working the slider more the past two seasons. Pitching in PNC may help his stats a bit (except W-L), but being a lefty, and coming off of two good years, I personally think it will take one HECK of a spring for Teheran to hop his spot, which until Beachy comes back will likely be third. I could see him making the big club as a number 5 without Brandon, and it will be between him and Minor to see who hangs on come July.

      Don’t forget, there is still some arms out there that could be grabbed for a one year deal, and if the Braves aren’t overly comfortable with the staff minus Beachy here in the next couple weeks, they can still make a move. Cristhian Martinez has some starts under his belt in the pros, and Sean Gilmartin (probably won’t use up an option this year), JR Graham (same with him), Dusty Hughes (who will either make the team or be cut), Obispo (who started some in AA and tore it up), and Daniel Rodriguez (put up good numbers in AAA last year) are all non-roster invites this year. Juan Jaime was a starter a couple years ago in the minors, and youngsters David Hale, Aaron Northcraft, and Cory Rasmus have been serviceable starters at their respective levels. None of these guys except Martinez really has much of a shot at starting up in the show, but if Minor and Teheran struggle, why not give them a look?

      But I love the optimism and the bold prediction!

  • fireboss

    I agree withe both of you and though that sounds odd all will become obvious. Maholm is a terribly over rated pitcher. True you know what you get but what you get is often mediocre to poor. That’s the definition of a 5th starter. This lineup may well score enough runs against the back end of other rotations to give him a 500 season which is again what a 5th starter does.

    Teheran may well have regained his stuff from 2011 and that alone might slip him in front of Maholm in the rotation. He’s the golden #1 prospect etc etc however the Teheran I saw in 2011 had no out pitch. He’d get a 2 strike count then go 3-2 and by the end of 5 he was over 100 pitches. He needs to be more efficient if he’s going to get the 160 + innings (148 is not enough for a 4 starter Jeff) we need from him this year. I’ll be surprised if he has a 500 season he’s a 5 starter like Maholm.

    These are the reasons I have real questions about the rotation and our lack of pitching depth. Like I suggested to Lee, signing Javier Vasquez as a hedge against that would be a good thing. If he doesn’t come back after his knee surgery Carl Pavono would be another good fit. I really don;t want to rely on Gilmartin and crew if Huddy goes down with those heel bone spurs or a back issue.

    • http://www.facebook.com/barry.swindler.3 Barry Swindler

      Do you not think that Maholm being a lefty makes at least his perceived value more, given the importance placed on lefties in the league today I mean.

      I’d like Javier, if we can get him on a one year deal, and he is healthy, and we can get him back to form, etc etc… and I agree, I DO NOT want to count on any of those other guys to fill in if ANYONE goes down, other than Gilmartin, but I believe I am willing to acknowledge that I am higher on him than most.

      But, back to my defense of Maholm for a second. If you look at his numbers, he has shown a definite improvement over the last two years, ages 29-30, which I would argue is really when a pitcher figures out “how to pitch”. His era has been around 3.6-3.7 (not great but better than average), his strike out to walk ratio has been up over the 2:1 mark (desirable), and while his HR/9 was up last year, this is obviously due to moving out of PNC. His fast ball is mediocre at best, and if you believe in sabers, is well below average. He countered this by relying on sliders a lot more last year, which would be why as I pointed out before, his GB% was up. His BABIP has also been trending in the right direction, but given his below avg BABIP for a pitcher over his career, it could be argued that it proves nothing more than he has gotten lucky the past two seasons. Plus, he has proven he can pitch 180+ innings a year, which, as you pointed out, we need.

      My bottom line with him is consistency, and compared to our other two options, he is consistently better. With Teheran and Minor being the only other viable options at this date, I don’t see how he would not be considered number three. But, I agree, if he has not put up number five starters numbers when compared to everyone else in the rotation, we are in trouble. Our once great strength might prove to be our weakness this year. Who would have thought trading Delgado would have such a trickle effect on our rotation.

      • fireboss

        Perception is only reality in things that can’t be measured. Yes Maholm is a lefty and with a shortage of lefties and the trouble some people just have trouble seeing a ball from that side. He should get his 200 innings with this lineup scoring for him and defending behind him. As a pitch to contact guy he’ll allow hits but a few of the gap shots will get cut down in by Upton Upton and Heyward. He’ll give up a home run a game or so but may well end up 11-11 this season. He’s a five pitching in the 4 spot because Teheran hasn’t shown he can be a 4 yet and because Medlen Minor Hudson Maholm Teheran makes more sense that flip flopping the last to.

        I liked the trade CONSIDERING what was available and what we gave up and because Reed Johnson came along with it. Vasquez by all reports was pitching well, hitting 92-94 with his fastball and still striking people out like he always (outside of NY) did. There will be competition for him however and that may price him out of the Braves thinking.

        • Lee Trocinski

          Maholm gets 50% groundballs, so he’s not going to allow anywhere close to a homer a game. He is above average in two of the three main skills for a pitcher (BB and GB), something most 5′s can’t say. I know we’ve discussed this before, but average is better than most people think.

          • fireboss

            Perhaps I should have said per 9. Maholm has allowed .8 homer per 9 in his career. Last year it was .95. His hr/FB rate which had been down to 7% for the last 3 years shot back to 12% last year. It’s true his GB rate is better than avg but his XHB% and XB/h % are above avg. Doesn’t make him a bad pitcher but it does make him a 5th starter in a good rotation.

    • Jeff Schafer

      The 148 inning projection is a precursor to Beachy coming back mid season. With an innings limit on Beachy, I still expect Teheran to get starts but feel innings will be taken away with the return.

      Maholm has had back to back good/decent seasons, true, and because of this lineup he will get more wins but unless he can consistently hit his spots a HR a game isn’t out of question for a soft throwing lefty. He may get 50% groundballs but the other 50% may be going over the fence.

      I’ll take upside over Maholm all day

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