Atlanta Braves 2012 Prospect Review: Julio Teherán

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 09: Julio Teheran #49 of the Atlanta Braves delivers the pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning in game five of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 09, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 09: Julio Teheran #49 of the Atlanta Braves delivers the pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals during the ninth inning in game five of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 09, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Our journey back in time to review the 2012 Atlanta Braves prospects reaches it’s pinnacle. We now get to talk about the top ranked prospect Julio Teherán .

It has been fun looking back in time to the prospects of yesteryear. Now we get to look back at a guy that I will say was really underappreciated during his time. More on that later.

Check out the previous editions:

The Pitcher that was Promised… Julio Teherán

Julio Teherán was signed by the Braves during the international signing period of 2007 from Cartagena, Columbia. He would begin pitching professionally for the Braves the following year.

A scouting report stated that Teherán showed great mound presence and plus stuff. The hope was he could have three plus offerings (fastball, changeup, curveball) at the major league level. By the time he made it to the majors, he was considered an elite prospect.

Here is a look at his minor league journey through 2011:

  • 2008 Rookie: 6 starts, 15.0 innings- 6.60 ERA, 4.45 FIP, 3.68 xFIP, 1.47 WHIP, 25.8% strikeout rate, & 6.1% walk rate
  • 2009 Rookie: 7 starts, 43.2 innings- 2.68 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 3.52 xFIP, 0.98 WHIP, 22.5% strikeout rate, & 4.0% walk rate
  • 2009 A: 7 starts, 37.2 innings- 4.78 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 4.21 xFIP, 1.41 WHIP, 17.2% strikeout rate, & 6.7% walk rate
  • 2010 A: 7 starts, 39.1 innings- 1.14 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 3.18 xFIP, 0.84 WHIP, 29.2% strikeout rate, & 6.5% walk rate
  • 2010 A+: 10 starts, 63.1 innings- 2.98 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 2.80 xFIP, 1.09 WHIP, 29.2% strikeout rate, & 5.0% walk rate
  • 2010 AA: 7 starts, 40.0 innings- 3.38 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 3.71 xFIP, 1.15 WHIP, 23.5% strikeout rate, & 10.5% walk rate
  • 2011 AAA: 25 games (24 starts), 144.2 innings- 2.55 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 3.95 xFIP, 1.18 WHIP, 20.7% strikeout rate, & 8.1% walk rate

The performance through the minors actually saw Julio Teherán rise to the top prospect in the Braves system before the 2011 season. This had him ranked over guys like Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel. Baseball America ranked him 5th in all of baseball while MLB pipeline ranked him 10th.

Teherán actually earned himself a spot start on May 7th, 2011 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He would take a loss allowing 3 runs over 4.2 innings. Another spot start occurred on May 18th against the Arizona Diamondbacks where he finished with a no decision after 4 innings of 2 run ball.

He would come back in September when rosters expanded. He earned his first win against the New York Mets on September 8th with 5.1 innings pitched with only 1 earned run. He would make two more appearances out of the bullpen. In 5 total games, 3 starts, and 19.2 innings pitched, Teherán totaled a 5.03 ERA, 5.87 FIP, 5.21 xFIP, 5.27 SIERA, 1.47 WHIP, 11.5% strikeout rate, & 9.2% walk rate.

He may not have been ready for the major leagues, but his 2011 AAA stats showed enough promise that he was named to Baseball America’s 2011 minor league All-Star team. It also led to Teherán remaining the number 1 prospect for the Braves in 2012. He moved up to 5th in baseball, trailing only Shelby Miller (old friend) for top right-handed pitcher. Teherán was 4th according to MLB pipeline, ahead of Miller, however, he was the second overall pitcher behind Matt Moore.

The hype surrounding Teherán was real, and fans were ready for him to take that next step. He would have an opportunity to earn the 5th spot in the rotation during Spring Training but failed to take advantage. 2012 would actually turn into a disastrous year for the young pitcher.

He would start 26 games in AAA, pitching 131.0 innings, with a 5.08 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 4.50 xFIP, 1.44 WHIP, 16.8% strikeout rate, & 7.5% walk rate. The performance would see him get passed up several times for spot starts and even to replace injured players. Even after a season ending injury to Brandon Beachy, Teherán could still not find his way to Atlanta.

This is where the Randall Delgado vs Julio Teherán debates really heated up because it appeared that maybe Delgado had passed Teherán in favor amongst those in charge of the Braves. All in all, Teherán would only pitch 6.1 innings at the major league level.

Following the 2012 season, the Braves were rumored to be interested in making a big trade to improve their roster. They were heavily rumored to be after Justin Upton and the thought was it would take one of Delgado or Teherán to get the deal done. As we know, Delgado was shipped to Arizona and the Braves showed confidence that Teherán could turn it around.

He would still be ranked as the top prospect for the Braves in 2013 but fell to 31st in baseball. Still highly ranked but expectations were tempered. He earned a spot in the major league rotation with a strong Spring Training. It looked bad after a month, when he had a 5.08 ERA and there were thoughts of sending him back to Gwinnett.

However, he turned the corner and had a breakout 2013 season. In 30 starts, 185.2 innings, Teherán had a 3.20 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 3.55 SIERA, 1.17 WHIP, 22.0% strikeout rate, & 5.8% walk rate. Teherán was worth 2.9 bWAR 2.6 fWAR. He paid off the Braves showing confidence in him by giving them a breakout season. In return, the Braves gave him a 6-year $32.4M extension that off-season.

Julio Teherán had arrived. After a couple years, he had finally figured it out. Realizing that he was only 22, the Braves recognized the talent and understood maybe he had been rushed to the majors.

The next season, he would earn the Opening Day nod on the bump. He would not look back. In 2014, Teherán would put together what would arguably be the best year of his career to date. In 33 starts, 221.0 innings, he pitched to a 2.89 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 3.72 xFIP, 3.68 SIERA, 1.08 WHIP, 21.0% strikeout rate, & 5.8% walk rate. Teherán was worth 4.3 bWAR & 3.4 fWAR. It earned him an All-Star appearance.

It earned him the Opening Day start in 2015 but would take a step back. In 33 starts, 200.2 innings, he finished with a 4.04 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 4.18 xFIP, 4.24 SIERA, 1.31 WHIP, 20.3% strikeout rate, & 8.7% walk rate. The step back resulted in a 1.9 bWAR and 1.4 fWAR.

The 25-year-old would get the Opening Day start in 2016 again. A bounce back year was in order. In 30 starts, 188.0 innings, he finished with a 3.21 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 4.13 xFIP, 3.93 SIERA, 1.05 WHIP, 22.0% strikeout rate, & 5.4% walk rate. He once again found him back in the All-Star game and with a 4.7 bWAR & 3.0 fWAR.

Unfortunately, his play would really decline following the 2016 season.

  • 2017: 32 starts, 188.1 innings- 4.49 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 4.96 xFIP, 4.89 SIERA, 1.37 WHIP, 18.6% strikeout rate, 8.9% walk rate, 1.6 bWAR, & 1.0 fWAR.
  • 2018: 31 starts, 175.2 innings- 3.94 ERA, 4.83 FIP, 4.72 xFIP, 4.67 SIERA, 1.17 WHIP, 22.4% strikeout rate, 11.6% walk rate, 1.9 bWAR, & 0.7 fWAR
  • 2019: 33 starts, 174.2 innings- 3.81 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 5.26 xFIP, 5.11 SIERA, 1.32 WHIP, 21.5% strikeout rate, 11.0% walk rate, 3.2 bWAR, & 1.6 fWAR

The performance was not the same. However, he was still a solid pitcher. In 2018, his fifth straight Opening Day start made him the first Atlanta Braves pitcher to do so. In 2019, his sixth straight Opening Day start tied him with Warren Spahn for most consecutive Opening Day starts in franchise history. He would not make a seventh start, as his contract would end and his time with the Braves would come to an end.

Julio Teherán Struggles After Atlanta

Teherán signed a one-year $9M deal with the Los Angeles Angels on December 21st, 2019. As we would know, the 2020 season was hampered by the COVID pandemic. Teherán himself would test positive for Covid in July 2020 which would impact his season. It was a season to forget, as he would pitch 31.1 innings with a 10.05 ERA, 8.62 FIP, 6.35 xFIP, 5.99 SIERA, 1.76 WHIP, 13.4% strikeout rate, & 10.7% walk rate.

The Angels would let him walk that winter. Due to the poor performance, Teherán would only get a minor league contract that winter, signing with the Detroit Tigers. His contract would get selected in March, as he opted out of the minor league contract, and signed a one-year $3M deal. He would only make 1 appearance for the Tigers, a five inning outing with 1 run allowed against the then Cleveland Indians. That following week, he would hit the ten-day injured list with a right shoulder strain. It would eventually be elevated to a sixty-day IL stint and end his 2021 season.

Following two down years, Teherán would hit the indy ball scene. He would sign with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League. He pitched well in 33.2 innings with a 2.94 ERA.

He then pitched in the Mexican League with both Tijuana and Monterrey to less than stellar results. He also pitched in the Dominican Winter League for 38.2 innings with the Toros.

Teherán did sign a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres back in November, so he is getting another shot. The deal will pay him $6M if he reaches the majors. The Padres currently have some question marks for the rotation, so there is a possibility he could work his way back to the majors.

It would be important, as Teherán has slightly more than 9 years of service time in the major leagues. If he can reach the majors, he will have a shot to crack the 10 years of service time that would fully vest him in the major league pension program. Less than 10% of all MLB players reach that ten year mark, so it is a testament to Teherán’s career.

We Reach the End

The end is here for the 2012 prospect review. A fun ride ending with Julio Teherán. While he never reached true Ace status that so many were hopeful for, he did have a solid career with the Braves. One that I think sometimes goes underappreciated.

We may have been too hard of Julio Teherán because we wanted him to be an Ace all while ignoring that he was a solid rotation piece for several years. I hope to see him finish his professional career in a strong manner.

Thanks for taking a trip through time with me and looking back at the former top prospects.