Before Julio Teheran took the mound for the ninth inning Sunday, Triple-A Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed made sure to ask if he was ready to go. The look in the right-hander's eyes said more than enough.
Teheran (5-2) proceeded to strike out the first two batters of the inning in a 1-2-3 ninth, polishing off the first complete game of his five-year pro career in the Braves' 5-1 win over the Charlotte Knights. MLB.com's No. 2 overall prospect surrendered just one run on seven hits without a walk while striking out six as he went the distance.
"We knew we'd send him back out," said Reed of the moment before the ninth, "but I went up to him as he was walking out and said to him, 'You got enough to finish it?' I knew he did, but we were just confirming it, and the look in his eyes said, 'I want this.'
"He did want it. We looked pretty smart when he went back out there and pitched the way he did."
Teheran threw 109 pitches to get through nine frames, and Reed said there was never really any doubt between him and Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage about whether the Braves' top prospect would be given a shot to wrap things up on his own.
"He had plenty of pitches to go back out there and do it," said Reed. "We were both confident putting him back out there. He had only 92 pitches going into that last inning and he was throwing the ball well."
The effort provided a high point for what's been at times an up-and-down season for Teheran. His previous four starts lasted 7, 2 2/3, 7 and 3 innings, respectively. Only four of his 11 starts have lasted at least six innings, but he's allowed more than one run in just three outings.
Overall, he's managed to compile a 3.15 ERA in 54 1/3 innings overall this season, striking out 43 batters and walking 21.
Reed said part of the Colombian's inconsistency stemmed from trying to do too much after finding so much success last season.
"One of the things I think that got him early in the year is he was trying to duplicate the 15-3 and the 2.55 ERA," said Reed. "That's a great goal to have, but trying to live up to it is hard, and he put more pressure on himself, thinking, 'Now I have to be even more dominant.'
"It's fastball command. Today he threw his fastball where he wanted to, kept it down in the zone. Most of the games where he hasn't had that command, that's where he's ran into trouble. It's a matter of making small adjustments with his delivery and being consistent. We're trying to get him to do that so he can be successful at the Major League level, and he realizes that maybe his numbers aren't as great as last year, but those are the things he needs to do, what the Braves want him to work on."
Luis Durango, Felix Pie, Ernesto Mejia, Lance Zawadzki and Shawn McGill each provided an RBI in support of Teheran.