LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – He’s rated one of the top three pitching prospects in all of baseball, and Braves right-hander Julio Teheran made a few more believers in the opening week of spring training.
The Colombian right-hander drew plenty of attention while throwing batting practice against Braves hitters on a backfield.
“I usually don’t like to buy into all the hype, but I was pretty impressed,” veteran backup catcher David Ross said. “When he located – and he did it on probably 10 of the 30 pitches he threw – it was, in my opinion, pretty unhittable.”
Ross was referring to pitches thrown exactly where Teheran wanted them. A hard thrower who only turned 20 three weeks ago, Teheran has what scouts call “electric stuff,” coupled with pinpoint command of three pitches.
“Real live [arm],” new Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after seeing the organization’s top prospect for the first time. “Lotta, lotta life.”
Teheran is a non-roster invitee to spring training and isn’t a candidate for a major league job out of camp. Because of his age and inexperience – he’s not pitched above Double-A — the Braves are likely to have him spend another season the minor leagues.
General manager Frank Wren has not ruled out the possibility that Teheran or Randall Delgado, another top prospect in his first major league spring training, could be called up during the season if the Braves have a rash of pitching injuries.
For now, they will work to make an impression while they’re in big-league camp.
“You hear all the hype all the time about guys,” Ross said. “It’s like with [right fielder Jason] Heyward — you don’t want to give them credit till you watch them perform. But [after seeing Heyward last spring] it was like, OK, you’ve got it. Hats off.”
Ross got a similar feeling while catching Teheran’s batting-practice session. Among the hitters he faced was outfielder Brent Clevlen, who’s spent parts of four seasons with Detroit and Atlanta.
“He told Clevlen what was coming and I think he was going to swing at one of the fastballs,” Ross said. “He threw him three fastballs, but I don’t think he could swing. It was in my mitt before I could really think. He went to swing and I think he was like, ‘Not only is it by me, it’s painted.’
“Not only does he throw hard, it was on the black.”
Clevlen didn’t dispute that account.
“The first three pitches I saw were just right there, knee-high on the black, kind of away. I wasn’t ready for that. Not this early.”
Asked about Teheran’s “live” arm, Clevlen said, “Yeah. Nice and easy, looked like he wasn’t trying to put too much effort into it. The ball came out of his hand real well.”