Ryan Boyer

Spring Training Daily

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Julio Turning Heads

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

As far as top prospects go, Julio Teheran’s 2012 season was among the most disappointing.


The 22-year-old posted a 5.08 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over 26 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett and watched his K/9 rate drop to an uninspiring 6.7. Ranked by Baseball America going into the season as the game’s fifth-best prospect, Teheran fell to No. 44 in this year’s rankings.


Yet, through the first few weeks of spring training, Teheran has been arguably the Grapefruit League’s most impressive pitcher. The young right-hander spun five no-hit frames Tuesday against the Cardinals, striking out six while walking two. Teheran now owns a 1.29 ERA, 0.57 WHIP and 18/4 K/BB ratio over 14 spring innings.


Much of the credit for Teheran’s turnaround has been given to his two-seamer, which the Braves instructed the righty to start using more in winter ball. Teheran has developed a good feel for the pitch and now considers it a weapon to go along with his four-seamer, which touches the mid-90s, and his changeup, which can be devastating. The right-hander is still searching for a consistent breaking ball, but having a third potentially plus pitch could be huge for him.


"Julio has got some weapons," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said on MLB.com. "The more he goes out there, the more he is impressing me with his changeup and two-seamer that comes back on the lefties."


Teheran is set to enter the season as the Braves’ No. 5 starter. Last year’s struggles at Triple-A, as well as his lackluster showing during his brief time in the majors the last two years, will likely scare many fantasy owners off. That could make him a potentially great bargain as a late-round flier.


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What’s Up, Doc?


Roy Halladay’s results were good in his first three Grapefruit League outings. His velocity started going in the wrong direction his third time out, though, and it bottomed out Tuesday in his fourth appearance, resulting in an ugly performance against a Tigers lineup featuring many backups.


The right-hander allowed seven runs on six hits and four walks over just 2 2/3 innings, serving up a two-run homer to Don Kelly and a grand slam to Ramon Santiago. Various radar gun readings had Doc’s fastball ranging from 84-88 mph in the outing, which is significantly down from the 89-91 mph he was throwing his first two times out.


Despite the woeful showing, Halladay insists that he feels healthy, blaming the poor results on lethargy brought on by a new workout regimen and an altered pitching schedule.


"The good part is, there's no soreness," Halladay said on MLB.com. "Nothing hurts."


Manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee admitted to having “concern” over Halladay’s lack of command and velocity Tuesday, with Manuel adding that he’s not sure Doc will “ever get back” to being the pitcher he once was. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on where the right-hander’s velocity is over the rest of his spring starts and adjust their cheat sheets accordingly.


Santana "Barely Communicating” with Mets’ Officials


It’s been over a week since Mets’ officials questioned Johan Santana’s offseason throwing program, believing the left-hander could have come to camp better prepared. Santana responded to the comments by throwing an unplanned bullpen session, which understandably didn’t please the club.


It seemed like the situation was over and done with, but apparently that’s not the case, as John Harper of the New York Daily News reports that Santana “remains bitter” and is "barely communicating with club officials."


“Let’s put it this way,” a team official told the Daily News’ Andy Martino.  “This wouldn’t be the time to approach him about helping with any team functions.”


But, while the relationship between Santana and the Mets obviously isn’t ideal, the bigger issue at this point is the left-hander’s shoulder. Santana is still trying to build up strength and needs to throw a bullpen session and live batting practice before being cleared to appear in a Grapefruit League game. Neither has been scheduled.


Santana will have to throw 90 pitches in a spring game before being allowed to appear in a regular season contest, which means it’s highly unlikely he’ll ready for an Opening Day start. With an iffy shoulder and an 8.27 ERA over his final 11 starts last season, the two-time Cy Young winner is nothing more than a late-round flier in mixed leagues.


Crawford Coming Along


Carl Crawford took a self-proclaimed “step in the right direction” Tuesday when he took live batting practice off of teammates Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell.


It was the first time he’d taken BP since being shut down two weeks ago with left forearm tightness, an ailment the Dodgers believe to be related to last August’s Tommy John surgery. Crawford was pleased with how the session went.


“Your timing at this point is never going to be the way you want it, but it wasn’t as far off as I would expect it to be, either,” he said in the Los Angeles Times.


While he hasn’t officially been ruled out for Opening Day yet, Crawford almost surely won’t be ready to play at that time. It does seem like he might only miss the first couple weeks of the season, though, which the Dodgers would surely be satisfied with after the outfielder was limited to 31 games in 2012.


Long gone are the days when Crawford was an annual first-round selection in fantasy leagues, but he could wind up being a nice value pick if he stays healthy.




Sign up for a free fantasy baseball league this season at Yahoo!

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.
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