After a rough Spring Training and a rocky start to 2012, Atlanta pitching prospect Julio Teheran appears to be back on track.
MLB.com's No. 4 prospect scattered two hits and struck out a season-high seven batters over 5 2/3 innings Tuesday as the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves blanked the Norfolk Tides, 6-0.
A return to the International League appears to be just what the doctor ordered.
"It's hard to say a guy not being in the big leagues is a good thing, but in this case it is," Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed said. "He will use the things he learns here now wherever he goes. It will make him better.
"He has put together back-to-back quality starts. The things he's doing on the mound are pretty special."
Teheran worked around Xavier Avery's leadoff double to start the game, and he used an inning-ending double play to erase Joe Mahoney's one-out base hit in the second. After a 1-2-3 third, Teheran rolled another double-play ball to get out of the fourth before using back-to-back strikeouts to strand a runner at third base and end the fifth.
The 21-year-old retired the first two batters he faced in the sixth, but a walk to Steve Tolleson brought an end to his night.
Ordinarily, Teheran might have been allowed to finish the inning, but a 42-minute rain delay after the first frame complicated matters.
"A lot depends on how you handle it," Reed said. "Once the rain came we sat him down for a little bit, which is the equivalent of when the other team is pitching. Then we took him to the mound in the indoor batting cage to have him throw 15 pitches which is like one inning.
"We were able to keep him in sync. He threw an extra inning, just not in the game."
Tuesday's outing gave Teheran his second consecutive win and lowered his ERA to 2.19. It also marked his best performance of the new campaign, and more importantly, may signify an end to his early-season woes.
The native of Colombia went 0-1 with a 9.37 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances with the Braves this spring. He allowed 18 runs -- 17 earned -- on 22 hits and eight walks over just 16 1/3 innings, essentially handing the No. 5 spot in Atlanta's rotation to Randall Delgado.
Things failed to get better for the 6-foot-2 right-hander in his return to the International League, where he went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA last year. In his season debut on the road in Durham, Teheran allowed three runs on three hits and a pair of walks in just 1 2/3 innings.
"It's hard to say that someone who went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA has to learn how to pitch, but he is now learning to set up people rather than just relying on his stuff to blow by people," Reed added. "It will be a blessing in disguise.
"A lot of people would be extremely disappointed to be sent back [to the Minors], but the first thing he said to me was, 'Marty, we have to get back to work.' He has a good frame of mind and that is the biggest key. He didn't feel sorry for himself, and he wants to make improvements. That is what sets Julio apart."
On Tuesday, Buddy Carlyle allowed one hit over 2 1/3 innings of relief to maintain his perfect 0.00 ERA, and Ben Swaggerty tossed a perfect ninth to complete the shutout.