Entering his fifth season pitching in the United States and his second atop the Braves' list of prime prospects, it's easy to forget that Julio Teheran is only 21 years old.
This fact is never more clear than when Teheran picks up the phone from Georgia.
"Sometimes I am little scared to talk," he said, acknowledging that his success leads to conversations with non-Spanish speakers. "But when I have to, I use total English."
Teheran scared off the pitching mound? Much easier to imagine the fear he incites while standing tall on it.
The Braves' No. 1 prospect registered season highs in strikeouts and innings -- seven apiece -- on Saturday evening in Triple-A Gwinnett's 3-2 victory over the visiting Toledo Mud Hens.
The performance, creating more interest in a possible return to Atlanta, gave him more practice with his second language.
"I would say this is the best outing" of my season, Teheran said, adding, "for sure."
The right-hander gave up one run on five hits, including Audy Ciriaco's second-inning solo homer.
"I tried to throw my fastball for a strike the first pitch and he was jumping to it," Teheran said. "I wasn't dissapointed."
Teheran threw 67 of 99 pitches for strikes but was most pleased with the command of his secondary offerings.
"I was excited to do the same thing I did in my last start," said the native of Colombia, who started looking like his old self in a six-inning appearance last Monday. "I tried to make the same pitches. I tried to throw my off-speed -- my curve and my changeup -- for strikes, and that was the big thing [the Braves] wanted me to do down here. When I throw my off-speed for strikes, I make the other team, the other hitters think [about] more than my fastball."
As a result, Teheran's ERA has dropped to 2.48 through seven International League starts. So -- aside from his non-native tongue -- what exactly is he working on?
"If I'm doing well, I just try to do every outing the same thing, work on my pitches and wait, wait for the callup," said Teheran, who made his first five Major League appearances in 2011 before struggling with consistency at Spring Training. "I am feeling like I am getting ready and working on what they want me to work [on]. I feel like I'm ready to get there and stay there."
The G-Braves grabbed an early advantage when Ernesto Mejia -- one of Teheran's would-be translators -- struck a three-run first-inning blast off Mud Hens starter Fu-Te Ni.
Ni (2-1) allowed two more hits over six innings while striking out four.