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Beachy heads Braves' new wave of young starters

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ATLANTA (AP)

Julio Teheran was not even born in 1990 when Steve Avery joined Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in the Braves rotation. Atlanta, which added Greg Maddux for the 1993 season, won six Cy Young Awards in the decade.

Now Teheran, who just turned 21, is the junior member of a new youth movement in Atlanta.

Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Teheran combined to start 50 games as rookies last season. Beachy, who was 7-3 and led the team in strikeouts despite missing a month with an oblique injury, appears set as a 2012 starter.

Minor was 5-3 in 15 starts. Delgado won only one of his seven starts but had a strong 2.83 ERA and allowed only a .220 batting average. Teheran, like Delgado, was 1-1.

Beachy said he hopes the team's young guns, including former Yankees prospect Arodys Vizcaino, can remain together in the organization.

''There were a lot of people calling for big moves to be made last year,'' Beachy said Thursday, referring to speculation one or more young pitchers might be traded. ''Obviously I don't get paid to make decisions like that, but I can't say I'm not happy and pleased to keep all the young arms intact.

''The future could be a lot of fun to be a part of another young wave running through this organization.''

The insurance provided by the young pitchers could prove to be important.

Tim Hudson (back surgery), Tommy Hanson (shoulder) and Jair Jurrjens (knee) are coming off injuries.

Hanson and Jurrjens have been throwing in pitching coach Roger McDowell's workouts at Turner Field. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Hudson, who had a herniated disc in his back repaired in November, has been doing only light tosses.

''We'll get a better read in spring training, but we're not going to push him,'' Gonzalez said of Hudson.

The Braves cleared one spot in the rotation by trading Derek Lowe to Cleveland.

Minor, Delgado and Teheran moved up when Hanson and Jurrjens were on the disabled list during the team's September collapse. Lowe was 0-5 in September as the Braves blew an 8 1/2-game wild-card lead in September.

Beachy, who was 3-0 in August, was 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA in five starts in September. The right-hander said his final month keeps him from viewing his season as a success.

''I was happy with the year I had,'' Beachy said before stopping to shake his head. ''I wouldn't even say that. I wouldn't even say I was happy. I had a bitter taste in my mouth after my last three starts in September. It just came down to one inning in each of those starts I let get away from me. I'm working hard physically and mentally to figure out how I can stop those innings from happening on a regular basis.''

Minor, 24, Delgado, 22, Teheran and Kris Medlen will compete for starting spots when spring training opens on Feb. 20.

If the veterans are healthy, there may be only one spot open. Minor, a left-hander who was 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA in nine starts after the All-Star break, could be the favorite to make the rotation. He acknowledges the competition is daunting.

''I feel like our pitching depth is beyond what we need here in the big leagues,'' Minor said. ''We've had Triple-A guys post good numbers every year and it's hard to get a call-up. For me to say that I have a spot, I would never say that.''

Medlen, 26, could pitch out of the bullpen if he doesn't make the rotation. He was 6-2 in 31 games, including 14 starts, in 2010 before missing most of last season following right elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

Vizcaino, 21, also could pitch in relief. Vizcaino, who was the key for Atlanta in the trade after the 2009 season that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees, worked out of the bullpen in 17 games with Atlanta last season, but he has been a starter in the minors.

Then there's Teheran, who was ranked by Baseball America as baseball's top pitching prospect entering 2011. He won 15 games in the minors last season, when he was named the Triple-A International League's top pitcher.

Teheran was 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA in five games, including three starts, with Atlanta. His highlight came when he gave up five hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings in a win over the Mets on Sept. 8.

''Starting pitching,'' he said when asked his goal for the season. ''I'm trying to be in the rotation. I'm working hard because I want that.''

---

Associated Press freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd contributed to this report.

Tagged: Braves, Indians, Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy

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