LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves’ No. 5 starter competition is a three-man race between Mike Minor and top prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, but Minor is ahead of the other two at the starting line.
A year ago, he lost the No. 5 starter job to Brandon Beachy in spring training.
“But unlike last spring when he was on equal footing with Beachy, this spring he’s coming in ahead of the other guys,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “He’s the incumbent.”
That will come as good news for Minor, who says if the Braves don’t have room for him in their starting rotation this season, they might as well trade him.
“I’ve been in Triple-A all last year pretty much,” he said, “and the year before I had some time [in the majors]. I’m getting older every year, so there’s no reason for me to be sitting in Triple-A.”
Minor, 24, was 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 15 major league starts last season. He went 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA in his last 10, with 59 strikeouts and 16 walks in 56-1/3 innings.
“I think [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] and [manager] Fredi [Gonzalez] both have said he comes into it ahead of everybody else, and being left-handed gives him an additional advantage,” Wren said. “But still, we’ll watch what happens here.”
Minor is the most experienced of the trio, with 23 starts to 10 combined by Delgado and Teheran. Minor is the only lefty among the Braves’ major league-ready starters.
“[Being left-handed] gives him a huge advantage,” Braves general manager Fran Wren said of Minor. “But spring training is going to be important to determine who rounds out our staff.”
Top-rated Braves prospect Teheran, 21, was 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA in five games (three starts). Delgado wasn’t rated nearly as high as as Teheran but outshone him at the big-league level, going 1-1 with a 2.83 ERA in seven starts.
Since veteran Tim Hudson could miss April recovering from back surgery, it’s likely two from the trio of Minor, Teheran and Delgado will make the opening-day rotation.
“But after a month or two, somebody’s got to go [when Hudson returns],” Minor said. “Overall, it’s not really – it’s about making the team, but if … I can control my third pitch and have a decent fourth pitch, then there’s no reason I shouldn’t pitch in the big leagues somewhere. If they don’t have room for me here, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t trade me or just do something with me.”