Beachy heads Braves’ new wave of young starters

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.