BLUF: Expectations have to change and he looks more like a number three starter with a tantalizing FB-CH combination.
The Player: Julio Teheran (RHP, Atlanta Braves) – Signed for a large bonus out of Colombia in 2007, making his debut in the rookie-level Appalachian League in 2008. Made six starts that summer, posting a 6.60 ERA with 18 hits, four walks and 17 strikeouts in 15 innings. Returned to Danville to start the 2009 season and notched a 2.68 ERA across seven starts before being promoted to Low-A Rome. Allowed 42 hits in 37.2 innings with 28 strikeouts in his first full-season experience. In similar fashion to his 2009 performance, he improved while repeating Low-A Rome to start 2010, finishing with a 1.14 ERA in seven starts. Continued to excel with a 2.98 ERA and better than a strikeout per inning after a promotion to High-A. Braves promoted him again that summer, giving him seven starts at Double-A where he posted a 3.38 ERA, less than a hit per inning and nearly a punch out per frame. Moved to Triple-A in 2011 and his overall performance was excellent with a 2.55 ERA in 144.2 innings with 123 hits allowed, 48 walks and 122 strikeouts. Has struggled with a 5.48 ERA in 24 starts this season. Made his MLB debut in 2011 with a 5.03 ERA across 19.2 innings, allowing 21 hits and eight walks while fanning just ten batters. Has made one MLB start this year, giving up four runs in 4.1 innings.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Instructional League 2009 and 2010, International League 2011 and 2012), Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 180): Lanky frame with long legs and a high waist. Wiry strength. Appears projectable but body hasn’t changed in 2-3 years. He is what he is and he has a solid-average body.
Delivery/Mechanics: Drops low on the back leg and loses some angle to the plate in the process. Lightning quick arm. Unbelievable arm speed. Has some effort at the end of his release but typically follows through well. Doesn’t always finish in a position to field the ball, thanks to occasional recoil. No definitive red flags but you wouldn’t teach it either.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 97, Low – 91, Average 92-94, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 96, Low 90, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: FB gets on hitters and is deceptive because of arm speed. Good natural life. Ball doesn’t have consistently similar movement but always seems to move, either with sink or run. Could still improve ability to move ball on command, possibly helping his raw movement play up. Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: Easy plus pitch that plays up because of his knowledge of how to use it and move it around the strike zone. Lacks FB velocity projection but still a legit plus pitch that will get outs. Grade – 60/60
Curveball (CB): Extremely inconsistent and unreliable. Some reports indicate he toys with a SL as well but when I’ve seen him, it looks more like a CB that he dropped his elbow on and got around. CB lacks consistent movement and is even less frequently located. Below-average pitch. Seems to lack feel for spinning the pitch and using it as a reliable offering. Lack of progress over several seasons is concerning. Grade – 40/40
Change-up (CH): Outstanding pitch. True plus offering that induces ridiculous swings from experienced hitters. Tremendous arm speed that adds to the deception of solid sink and fade. Shows occasional well-above average “Bugs Bunny” CH and could get there on a consistent basis. Tremendous secondary pitch. Grade – 60/70
Control: Even with some effort upon release, consistently pounds the strike zone with FB and CH. No trouble throwing strikes and working around the zone with ease. Grade – 70/70
Command: Has had consistent plus command projection over last two years. Struggling a little more this year but still locating FB and CH. No command of CB. Not consistently working as low in the zone as he has previously, elevating the ball when he doesn’t want to. Still has plus projection, particularly moving side to side. Grade – 40/60
Summation: Plus FB. Plus CH. Both pitches are reliable and can miss bats. FB command must come back, particularly with loss of angle as a result of drop and drive delivery. CH has excellent deception and could be one of the best CH by an RHP in the big leagues. Lack of CB development is alarming. No progress and shows no feel to allow projection. Lack of breaking ball projection limits overall projection. Very intelligent pitcher that knows how to set hitters up and work through a lineup multiple times. Good feel for craft. Very mature and poised on the mound. Excellent presence. Had vaunted “ace” tag on him for a while. Without consistent breaking ball, looks more like a number three starter with slim chance at number two status. Occasional scout still sees him as a Trevor Hoffman-type FB-CH reliever.
Relative Risk: Low. Risk is low provided long-term expectations are altered to match current grades. Will be a big league contributor with role up in the air.
Future: Inconsistent 2012 season has left some questions surrounding his readiness for 2013. Has been coming on of late and could still be in the mix for a rotation spot next season.