For years we were told to be excited about Julio Teheran. All we heard was that the stuff was there for him to be an upper end starter, even if the on field product wasn't always putting up great numbers. Moreover, Baseball America, the preeminent source for ranking prospects, long loved Julio. Here is how they ranked him among all minor league prospects.
When you're in the top-10 two times in a row there are high expectations. I bring all this prospect talk up because it appears that Teheran finally delivered on the hype in 2013 so now the question becomes, what do we do with him in 2014?
I noted how the performance of Julio didn't always match the hype. Here are the numbers to prove that. Let's start with his minor league work. In 95 outings he had a 35-26 record with a 3.50 ERA. Those are good numbers but they don't scream out elite prospect. Neither did his 1.22 WHIP over the 514.2 innings. His 8.1 K/9 mark was solid, ditto his 3.02 K/BB ratio, so you could see the seeds of success, even if his last effort at Triple-A was pretty dreadful (in 2012 he was 7-9 with a 5.08 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over 131 innings).
When he made it to the majors he looks like a child struggling to learn how to tie his/her shoelace. They get the concept, but they just can't complete the knot. Same thing with good old Julio. Over Teheran's first seven outings, spread over 2011-12, he went 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and had a 5.19 K/9 mark. Given all of that, the so-so minor league work and the spotty as all get out major league stuff, Teheran was barely drafted in 2013 making him one of the better waiver-wire adds in baseball when you note what numbers he produced last year including 14 wins, a 3.20 ERA, 170 Ks an a 1.17 WHIP over 185.2 innings. Anyone ever hear of the term post-hype sleeper? Teheran fit the bill in 2013.
So what can Teheran be reasonably be expected to provide in 2014? Clearly Teheran has talent. That much is obvious. He also had an extremely successful first full big league season posting numbers that guys like Mat Latos and Matt Cain would be proud of. That's exciting. Let's break down the skills.
Teheran had a 8.24 K/9 mark, a strong level of production that he should be able to sustain.
Teheran walked only 2.18 batters per nine innings. His minor league number was 2.7 suggesting we might see a few more free passes in '14, but he's still going to be very effective at limiting walks.
Teheran also pretty much dominated righties holding them an abhorrent slash line of .204/.264/.288. That's elite work, though lefties had some success as Teheran struggled a bit to impress with his off-speed stuff against port-siders (.289/.340/.438).
Another area of some concern is his fly ball rate. The mark wasn't out of control or anything at 41 percent, but being that it's a good seven percentage points above the league average you know there can be issues with the big fly at times. Teheran did allow a 1.07 HR/9 mark last season an if he repeats his 0.92 GB/FB ratio it's certainly possible that the number inches upward a bit (if you believe in the efficacy of xFIP, you will note that the 3.76 mark in that column was about half a run higher than his actual 3.20 ERA). It's also pretty hard to believe that he will be able to repeat the 80.9 percent left on base percentage he had last season, another reason to expect an uptick in the old ERA in the coming season.
Teheran is primed for another solid season in 2014. If he can maintain his strikeout rate, and it seems like he should be able to, while keeping the walks down (he should be able to do that too), then it's possible he will be able to post very similar numbers to last season. Still, there's that little nagging voice in the back of my head that's pointing to a couple of factors. (1) Home runs could be an issue cause of the fly balls. (2) He didn't seem to figure out lefties last season. (3) And this is more gut than anything else, but every time in his past that we've been ready to say he's finally made it he's taken a step back. Bottom line for me is that I'm not bumping Teheran up my draft board to the point that he's a building block. I'm also not targeting him as a must add arm. I like the arm and the outlook, but I'm not going to take him two rounds before his ADP just to make sure he's on my roster. In mixed leagues Teheran should be drafted as an SP4 type. Anything higher than that there's a greater than even chance that you will be left thinking you didn't quite get your monies worth.
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