ATLANTA -- Julio Teheran, rated the Braves' top prospect by MLB.com, may start the season in Triple-A. Kenshin Kawakami, a former star in Japan, is headed to Double-A.
"He's going to Mississippi. He's already been told," Braves general manager Frank Wren said Tuesday when asked about Kawakami, who was 1-10 with Atlanta in 2010 before being sent to Triple-A Gwinnett. He is owed $6.67 million in the final season of a three-year deal despite no longer being on the team's 40-man roster.
Wren said the Braves are sending Kawakami to Double-A instead of Triple-A to save spots in the Gwinnett rotation for pitchers in the team's plans for this season and the future.
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At the top of that list is Mike Minor, who is next in line to join the rotation, and Teheran, ranked No. 10 overall by MLB.com among prospects and ranked the second-best right-handed pitcher.
Teheran is just 20, and it had been projected that the native of Colombia would begin the season in Double-A before a possible move up to Triple-A near midseason. But Wren said that the timetable could be accelerated.
Although Wren said that "final, final decisions" on Minor League rosters hadn't been made, he indicated that "we know what our rosters pretty much look like" and mentioned Teheran when listing potential Triple-A starters.
"That's a projected possibility," said Wren when asked specifically about Teheran starting at Gwinnett.
Teheran was 9-8 with a 2.59 ERA overall last season and took part in a combined no-hitter after reaching Mississippi. He had 159 strikeouts in 142 2/3 innings.