A lot of people have jumped off the Julio Teheran bandwagon this past year, and rightfully so. Plain and simple, he was terrible. Ranked as one of the top pitching prospects heading into 2012, he doesn't seem to be in that discussion anymore. Is it time to write him off as a potential frontline starter? I'm sure most of you are saying "of course", but I still have hope. Here's why...
In 2012, the Braves made Julio Teheran alter his delivery, reducing the bend on his back leg to reduce risk for injury and straightening him out for better balance . His velocity went from 93-95 mph in 2011 to 90-93 in 2012. From what I've read online, Teheran never looked comfortable with the delivery, and his performance + confidence suffered because of it.
This off-season, during the Dominican Winter League, the Braves organization scrapped the changes they asked Teheran to make to his delivery in 2012. Here is what GM Frank Wren had to say after making a trip to the Dominican Republic to watch the new/old Teheran pitch:
“We wanted him to get back to a more natural delivery where he’s not thinking about his mechanics, and I think he’s accomplished that, His mechanics were very good. He looked much more natural and like he did two years ago.”
Going back to his old delivery, Teheran's velocity was back in the mid 90s consistently during the DWL. In his final 3 winter league starts, Teheran pitched 16.2 IP, only allowed 2 hits, 4 bb, and 15 K. We obviously can't put a lot of stock into DWL stats, however, it was nice to see the dominant Teheran of 2011 again and build his confidence heading into 2013.
It seems the Braves made a booboo here with Teheran's development. They tinkered with a successful pitcher and it backfired. I understand they wanted to protect him from injury, but can you really protect a pitcher from injury???
He's still so very young (only 21 years old), and armed with a plus fastball and plus change up with good command of both pitches. If he can refine his breaking ball to get more consistency, I definitely think he will once again be in the discussion for one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
Teheran confused a lot of people in 2012 with his head scratching performances. After a very disappointing year, at least now we have some insight into why possibly Julio Teheran took a step back.
The following article on Talking Chop is a great read that discusses Teheran in more detail: