Julio Teheran to make his major league debut on Saturday

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I mentioned earlier that the Eric Hosmer callup is going to interfere with my Friday night plans with the wife. Well, might as well cancel the entire weekend, Mrs. Calcaterra, because on Saturday it’s even better: the Braves have called up top prospect Julio Teheran and will give him the start against the Phillies.

Teheran is not just considered the Braves’ top prospect. According to Keith Law he is the best pitching prospect in all of baseball.  Just 20 years-old, he’s listed as 6’2″, but he is described as having a long and easy delivery with a plus fastball and a great changeup.  So far at AAA Gwinnett the righthander has had five starts. In those five starts he’s 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 30 innings while walking eight. He had a 2.59 ERA and 159/40 K/BB ratio in 142 innings across three levels last year.

Whether this is a permanent callup is an open question. The Braves needed to do something thanks to a rainout and a doubleheader earlier this week. They had penciled in Tommy Hanson on short rest for Sunday, but Atlanta tends not to like giving him short rest.  Another option was Mike Minor, who has at least pitched in the bigs before and would seem like a more likely stopgap starter than Teheran, but he just pitched last night. Given that the Braves’ rotation is otherwise just fine, it’s entirely possible that this is just a one-off for Teheran.

But one-off or not, it’s a formidable opponent in the debut. Going against the Phillies is a tall order, but the fact that he won’t be facing one of the four aces is a plus for him, and hopefully will take some of the pressure off. That is, as long as me and thousands of fellow Braves fanboys squealing like girls at a Beatles concert doesn’t cause any pressure.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.