Teheran carries winter success into spring

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez liked what they saw in December when they watched Julio Teheran pitch in the Dominican Winter League. During his first two starts of the Grapefruit League season, Teheran has given them more reason to believe he is ready to serve as Atlanta's fifth starter.

Teheran strengthened his bid to win the fifth spot by limiting the Nationals to one run and one hit in three innings of Friday night's 6-5 loss to the Nationals at Champion Stadium. The top pitching prospect displayed an impressive two-seam fastball while recording five strikeouts and throwing 26 of his 34 pitches for strikes.

"This is the third outing I've seen him, going back to his last outing in the Dominican," Gonzalez said. "His command was excellent there, and it has carried over. I've seen a better sinker the last two times out than I did in the Dominican."

Bryce Harper's wind-aided, opposite-field home run accounted for the only damage incurred by Teheran, who threw 14 pitches while striking out each of the final three batters that he faced.

"From what he showed today, I think he definitely could pitch here," Harper said. "He had pretty good stuff."

Teheran is battling for the rotation's fifth spot with Sean Gilmartin, who is scheduled to pitch three innings on Saturday against the Astros.