Braves farmhand Julio Teheran got his first taste of the Majors back in May. The way things are going, the highly touted righty could be making another trip to Turner Field before the summer is over.
Considered the best prospect in the Atlanta system, Teheran scattered three hits and struck out a season-high 11 batters while matching a career-best eight innings to lead the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves to a 2-0 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens on Thursday.
Teheran, who threw 69 of his 102 pitches for strikes and did not walk a batter, improved his record to 6-1 and lowered his ERA 28 points from 2.26 to 1.98 in the victory. It was his sixth career game with double-digit strikeouts and fell three shy of the personal best he set while pitching for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach in a 4-3 victory over Frederick on May 31, 2010.
"I thought he was outstanding. I think it was his best [start] of the year and he has had some really good outings, so you can imagine just how strong this one was," pitching coach Marty Reed said. "You can't draw it up much better than this."
Ranked as MLB.com's
No. 10 preseason prospect, the 20-year-old gave up singles in the first and third innings and a two-out double in the sixth, but he rarely ran into trouble.
He faced the minimum over the first two innings and stranded runners on the corners in the third. Only one other batter -- Omir Santos -- reached second base the rest of the way and Teheran retired 15 of the final 16 Mud Hens he faced. His eight innings of work tied a career high set April 25 in a 4-3 victory over the Charlotte Knights.
"He located his fastball very well and elevated his fastball at the proper times. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes, his change-up was good and his curveball had a much tighter break," Reed added.
"When you can locate your fastball like he did, all of your other stuff gets better. When you're throwing it 95-96 mph consistently that makes it pretty tough."
Teheran turned a 2-0 lead over to his bullpen in the ninth. The 6-foot-2 hurler has 57 strikeouts through 63 2/3 innings and he has yielded one earned run or fewer in seven of his 10 appearances in the International League.
Teheran ranks third on the circuit in ERA and he moved into a tie for second place with six victories. In two starts with the Braves earlier this year, the native of Columbia was 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA.
"I think mostly with Julio it's about his maturity and his ability and willingness to learn. He wants to get better," Reed explained. "He takes constructive criticism very well and his work ethic is outstanding. He's a great kid and he's always looking to improve."
Against Lehigh Valley on May 30, Teheran allowed five runs on nine hits -- both season highs -- and two walks while striking out three -- matching his season low -- in a 12-2 defeat.
"His start [against the IronPigs] wasn't very good and he wasn't happy with it," Reed said. "He wanted to fix the things he didn't do well. After tonight, there's not a whole lot to fix. It's now more about maintaining than improving."
On Thursday, closer Jairo Asencio worked around a ninth-inning walk to earn his eighth save. Brayan Villarreal (0-2) was on the losing end for Toledo after surrendering one run on four hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.