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Atlanta Braves Top 30 Prospects: No. 1, Julio Teheran

1. Julio Teheran, RHP
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 20 Ht: 6'2" Wt: 150
2010: (A-)
7 GS, 39.1 IP, 1.14 ERA, 2.3 BB/9, 10.3 K/9, 0.2 HR/9
(A+) 10 GS, 63.1 IP, 2.98 ERA, 1.8 BB/9, 10.8 K/9, 0.9 HR/9
(AA) 7 GS, 40 IP, 3.38 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 8.6 K/9, 0.4 HR/9

Julio Teheran signed with the Braves in 2007 out of Colombia. He completely skipped the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League, beginning his pro career at Rk Danville at 17 years old. While he was considered one of the best prospects in the system prior to 2010, his full season debut this past season officially signaled that the Braves have one of the best prospects in all of baseball.

In 2009, Teheran made seven starts for Danville and A- Rome, combining for a 3.65 ERA, 18 walks and 67 strikeouts. His numbers at Rome weren't off the charts (4.78 ERA, 11 BB, 28 K), but at 18 years old he handled the better competition well.

Teheran was in the spotlight for his full season debut in 2010, and he did not disappoint. His microscopic ERA and great rates at Rome quickly earned him a promotion to A+ Myrtle Beach, where he continued with equally solid numbers, including a walk rate below two per nine. After just 10 starts, he was aggressively promoted to AA Mississippi for the rest of the season. Naturally, his numbers took a little hit, but for a 19-year-old to do what he did between three levels like this is jaw dropping.

Teheran's fastball ranges from 92-95 and can touch 97, featuring a bit of tail. His curveball isn't a straight 12-6, but it snaps well down in the zone when he has a feel for it. The issue with this is at times he doesn't have a feel for it and occasionally leaves it up, but it's considered a well above average pitch. He has a plus changeup that is his out pitch, and it's lethal enough to record good strikeout numbers in the higher levels now. He occasionally telegraphs it with his motion, but it's rare and I'm to the point of reaching here. Teheran's stuff is off the charts for a 20-year-old, and it makes scouts salivate.

Teheran's delivery is a bit chaotic, causing some concern of repeating mechanics, as well as health and durability. For the most part, the mechanics concern has been proven false, though at times he may have the tendency to fly open. Health and durability have yet to be tested, and there's really no way of knowing how he might respond to 180+ innings, but he will continue to build strength and size as he matures.

Teheran's itty bitty tiny nit-picking weaknesses are all listed above, but what you need to know is he is a 20-year-old that projects as an ace. I tend to be cynical with my prospect reports just to keep things realistic, so it takes more for me to label someone a potential ace than you realize. Teheran is that guy. His stuff plays as a top of the rotation pitcher and his age is well below his level of play. There is one player with legit superstar potential in the Braves system, and it is Julio Teheran.

Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) Full Season in Upper Minors 2) Strikeouts 3) Durability
Destination in 2011: Half at AA/Half at AAA; possibility of cup of coffee in Majors
ETA: 2012
Ceiling: Ace
My Prediction: Ace

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.