Braves' Julio Teheran has had a 'pretty awesome' spring

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Back when he was one of the best prospects in the game, Julio Teheran wasn't ready to be a major-league pitcher.

He is now.

Back when his name was on lists with Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Dylan Bundy and Jurickson Profar, Teheran was a one-pitch guy headed for a lousy 2012 season in the minor leagues.

Baseball America ranked the Braves right-hander as the fifth-best prospect in all of baseball last spring (and the spring before). The magazine dropped him to 44th this year.

They might want to rethink that.

Teheran came to Braves camp hoping to prove he should be the team's fifth starter. Instead, the 22-year-old has proven to be the most impressive spring training pitcher anywhere, showing enough to make scouts believe this is real.

"That was pretty awesome," one scout said Saturday after watching Teheran's latest spring gem.

The numbers Saturday against the Astros: six innings, no hits, 10 strikeouts.

The numbers for the spring: 26 innings, seven hits, a major-league high 35 strikeouts (Stephen Strasburg is second, with 31), a 1.04 ERA and a .082 opponents batting average. Two times in his last three starts, he has pitched at least five innings without giving up a hit.

Spring training numbers can be misleading. Francisco Liriano led the majors in strikeouts last spring.

Pitchers like Teheran, who come to camp to compete for a job, often have better stats than established big-league starters who come to camp just looking to get ready for the season.

Still, the Braves watch Teheran and see more than just crazy-good numbers.

"He's showing four quality major-league pitches," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "A couple years ago, it was one, and not even one, because he couldn't control it."

Teheran made the prospect lists because of his big fastball, but he may well be ready to make it in the big leagues because he has finally understood the need to develop his other pitches. He admits that he tried to succeed with only a fastball last year, and proudly said many of his 10 strikeouts Saturday came with his breaking ball.

Teheran did his postgame interview in fluent English, another sign he has matured. Braves people said he has studied hard, using Rosetta Stone, and it shows.

Teheran got a taste of the big leagues each of the last two years, but he still has just seven appearances for Atlanta. But the Braves believed strongly enough that he was ready that they left a spot in the rotation open for him.

They wanted him to take it, and he has.

"That's what I have in my mind, that this is my year," Teheran said.

This has already been his spring.

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