No rush to boost arms collection;Teheran impresses, but call-up may wait; top need isn’t on mound.

Braves minor league pitcher of the
year Julio Teheran will be one of the top ranked minor-leaguers in
baseball next year. That’s not to say the
Braves are in any rush to get him to
the majors in 2011.

Braves general manager Frank Wren
said a fair comparison of his situation would be to Mike Minor in
2010. Minor was called up late in the season, only because of the
elbow injury to Kris Medlen.

“Would it surprise me if he ended up here at some point? No,”
Wren said of Teheran. “But it also wouldn’t surprise me if he
didn’t. Barring a lot of health problems, we have depth there. And
they are guys that we like a lot.”

He’s referring to Minor and Brandon Beachy, who could find
themselves in a spring-training battle for the fifth spot in the
Braves’ rotation.

Minor went 3-0 with a 3.91 ERA in his first four major league
starts, including an Atlanta rookie-record 12 strikeouts against
the Cubs. He tailed off in September, admittedly wearing down.
Minor went 0-2 with an 8.66 ERA in his last five appearances, four
starts.

“This was his first [full] year in pro ball and to still be
pitching in September was a tall order for a first-year kid,” said
Wren of the seventh overall pick of the 2009 draft out of
Vanderbilt. “When you see it at the big-league level like we saw it
in Chicago, you know it’s there. When he gets a chance to get a
fresh start and come into a season now knowing what it’s all about,
I think he’s an upper-echelon pitcher.”

Teheran, who turns 21 in January, went 9-8 with a 2.59 ERA in 24
starts combined in Single-A Rome and Myrtle Beach and Double-A
Mississippi.

He struck out 159 batters in 142 2/3 innings while holding
opponents to a .208 batting average. He showed off a 97 mph
fastball in two innings of relief in the Futures Game, but also
showed the
Braves he has a better understanding
of how to use his off-speed pitches.

“Last year he finally learned that he had to pitch to get people
out, even though his stuff is exceptional,” Wren said. “It was fun
to watch because he absolutely dominated hitters.”

Wren said Teheran will be among prospects invited to major
league camp in spring training, along with right-hander Randall
Delgado and shortstop Tyler Pastornicky.

Salcedo, Abreu improving in instructional league

After signing with much fanfare (and a $1.6 million bonus),
shortstop Edward Salcedo fell flat in Rome. He hit only .197
(38-for-193), and he committed 28 errors in 54 games.

But Wren said the
Braves are pleased with how Salcedo
has handled himself, how coachable he has been and how he’s
progressing in the fall instructional league.

“There are some guys who think they’re ‘the guy’ and big-league
people; they have an attitude,” Wren said. “He never did that. He
was anything but that. I think it’s like the No. 1-draft-choice
syndrome. You try to be somebody that everybody expects you to be,
rather than just be yourself. And I think in the instructional
league, there are no fans. It is getting your work in and playing
the game. We’re seeing him flourish again.”

Another player to watch from the instructional league has been
reliever Juan Abreu, the former Royals prospect, who had 47
strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings for Mississippi. Wren said he
regularly hit 97-99 mph with his fastball last season. He’s in
Florida working on his breaking ball.

Eye on Pastornicky

The
Braves’ lack of depth in the middle
infield in the upper levels of the minors was evident when the
Braves had only Diory Hernandez
available to help fill the void with a late-season injury to Martin
Prado.

But the next wave is coming, led by Pastornicky, the 20-year-old
shortstop who came as part of the Yunel Escobar trade with Toronto.
He hit .254 with nine extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in 38 games for
Mississippi last season. He is playing in the Arizona Fall
League.

“Pastornicky, we like a lot,” Wren said. “He’s only 20 years
old, playing in Double-A. And he can play short. He runs well. He’s
a pretty good-looking hitter.”

Injury updates

Pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino is progressing well in his
recovery from a partially torn elbow ligament and will not require
surgery, Wren said. Vizcaino made only three starts in Myrtle Beach
before the injury, which puts him about a year behind Teheran and
Delgado.

Center fielder Jordan Schafer is resting the sore left wrist
that had derailed his progress and is not headed for further
surgery, Wren said. Lingering problems hindered him at the plate
again this season, where he hit .201 in 76 games at Triple-A
Gwinnett and Mississippi. This is the third year he’s missed
significant time because of injury or his 50-game HGH
suspension.