ATLANTA—No Braves pitching prospect received more interest during the 2011 summer trading season than Julio Teheran, but general manager Frank Wren counted the righthander as one of his half-dozen pitching untouchables. So Teheran stayed put.
Any trade interest the 21-year-old has generated this year centers on his buy-low potential because his home run rate has ballooned, his strikeout rate has shrunk and his ERA with Triple-A Gwinnett has more than doubled, jumping from 2.55 last year to 5.34 through 19 starts this time around.
Teheran, who signed with Atlanta out of Colombia in 2007, gave up nine home runs in 16 innings during spring training, and his International League encore has been equally rocky. He had allowed 103 hits, including 16 home runs, through 91 innings while striking out 64. He continued to show fine control, walking just 32.
Teheran's season peaked on June 3 when he threw a nine-inning complete game against Charlotte, but he then proceeded to run up an 8.59 ERA over his next eight starts and 37 innings. He allowed four homers in five innings against Durham on July 8, and his past struggles in the big leagues (5.63 ERA in 24 innings) made it easy for Atlanta to bypass him when it lost Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery in June.
Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed attributed the righthander's up-and-down performance to a mechanical inconsistency that he's ironing out. Scouts still like Teheran's live arm—he sits 92-93 mph—yet note the decline in the number of swings and misses.
"Based on his mound presence, it's easy to forget he's just 21 years old," Reed said. "This is the first time he's struggled in professional baseball, and he's simply working his way through some adjustments.
"The arm strength and the ability are fine. It's just a matter of getting everything to come together."
• The Braves promoted first-round pick Luke Sims to Rookie-level Danville, placing him on a strict pitch count so that he won't amass more than 100 innings this year. He logged 77 as a high school senior.
• Atlanta promoted righthander J.R. Graham to Double-A Mississippi in mid-July after he went 9-1, 2.63 in 17 starts with high Class A Lynchburg and led the Carolina League in ERA. He shows excellent fastball command but was working to upgrade the sharpness of his slider.