Teheran gets an 'A' in Triple-A debut

Braves prospect takes no-decision after 'pen coughs up lead

Julio Teheran threw 56 of 86 pitches for strikes against Durham. (Gwinnett Braves)

By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com | April 8, 2011 7:45 PM ET

If Friday was a test, Julio Teheran passed with flying colors.

Teheran allowed a run on two hits and struck out three over 5 2/3 innings in his Triple-A debut but did not figure in the decision as the Gwinnett Braves dropped a 5-3, 12-inning decision to the Durham Bulls.

The 20-year-old right-hander got off to a rocky start, walking veterans Justin Ruggiano and Chris Carter with one out in the opening inning. He recovered to retire Robinson Chirinos on a fly ball, then fanned Leslie Anderson to end the frame.

"He was locating his fastball in the bottom of the zone and he had an outstanding changeup as well," Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed said. "For the most part, he was fastball-dominant tonight. He gave us 5 2/3 one-run innings -- that was pretty good. I'd give him an 'A.'"

Teheran, who throws a fastball, changeup and curveball, begins the year as MLB.com's No. 10 prospect after a strong 2010. He was 9-8 with a 2.59 ERA after making 24 starts at three levels, striking out 159 over 142 2/3 innings and holding opponents to a .208 batting average.

Reed, who watched Teheran make seven starts as pitching coach at Double-A Mississippi last summer, made a lofty comparison.

"He reminds me a lot of Clayton Kershaw in terms of his maturity and how he goes about his business," Reed said.

Teheran, who signed with Atlanta as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, leads a highly touted group of Braves prospects. Gwinnett teammate Mike Minor is ranked No. 21, while first baseman Freddie Freeman -- who opened the year in the Majors -- is No. 17.

Reed believes Teheran has the stuff to follow Freeman to Atlanta sooner rather than later.

"When he's on his game, he can pitch in the big leagues right now. But like most kids, it's how many times out of 10 are they going to go out there and execute their pitch on a consistent basis," Reed said. "I'm not going to put a timetable on it, but he's going to push the envelope pretty quick. This kid would be a sophomore in college right now and he went out there and handled himself really well tonight."

"Some of the things he does at 20 years old, to have the thought process in the bullpen to know what you need to work on, is huge. You get some guys who are 24, 25 years old who don't know what they want to work on in the bullpen. I can't really say too many more good things about him."

Teheran's only mistake came in the sixth, when Rays prospect Desmond Jennings hit a leadoff single and stole second. After retiring Ruggiano on a popout, the former Carolina League All-Star uncorked a wild pitch and gave up a sacrifice fly to Carter. That ended Teheran's night after 86 pitches.

Jennings, MLB.com's No. 11 prospect, finished with two hits and drove in the go-ahead run with a single in the 12th. Russ Canzler reached three times and scored twice for the Bulls.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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