(*) FACTS/FLUKES: Teheran, Rizzo, Prado, de la Rosa, Rendon

Teheran living up to billing ... Julio Teheran's (RHP, ATL) first taste of the big leagues at age 20 was a bitter one, and he followed that up with a rough year at Triple-A Gwinnett with a 5.08 ERA. Those stumbles lowered the bar for expectations heading into the season. But Teheran has more than held his own in his first full year as a major league starter.

Year    IP    ERA   xERA   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   S%   G/L/F     hr/9  BPV
====   ===   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   ==  ========   ====  ===
2011 * 164   3.19   3.39   3.0   6.7   2.2   76  30/24/46    0.5   76
2012*  137   5.45   5.08   2.7   6.0   2.2   64  22/33/44    1.1   45
2013    89   3.32   3.71   1.6   7.2   4.4   77  42/21/37    1.1  105
* Includes MLEs

Teheran is displaying skills that made him an upper-echelon prospect, and then some:

  • He's showing excellent control of the strike zone while upping his Dom rate. The result has been an All-Star caliber Cmd rate.
  • Teheran's strand rate is higher than average, helping him outpitch his xERA.
  • He's boosted his GB%, which has helped minimize HRs.
  • A triple-digit BPV speaks to the overall talent here.

It's important to remember that Teheran is just 22 and he soared through the minor leagues, so it's not surprising that he struggled in his first several starts. But he's now clearly pitching with confidence, tossing PQS-DOM starts in six of his last seven outings. While guys like Minor, Medlen and Beachy get a lot of the attention among the Braves young arms, Teheran is making a name for himself as well. If there is a concern this summer, it's that he's yet to exceed the 140-inning mark in his professional career.

 

More growth for Rizzo ... Anthony Rizzo (1B, CHC) seemed to answer any doubts last season with a .285-15-48 line after his late-June call-up. And the performance rightly established expectations for his first full season at Wrigley Field.

Year    AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%   Eye  h%   PX    G/L/F   hr/f  HR/SB  vLHP
====   ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ==  ===  ========  ====  =====  ====
2011   128  .141  .196   14   64  0.46  21  103  43/13/44    3%   1/ 2  .172
2012   337  .285  .280    7   82  0.44  31  108  45/25/30   18%  15/ 3  .208
2013   274  .245  .279   10   80  0.57  27  132  43/20/37   14%  11/ 5  .248

Rizzo continues to build on the skills he displayed last summer:

  • His strike zone judgment has improved and he's closer to showing the very good batting Eye he displayed in the minors.
  • A boost in FB% is reflected in his PX and will show up in his HR total, too, especially if he can repeat  last year's hr/f.
  • Rizzo has underachieved his xBA thanks to a subpar h%.
  • He's continued to improve vs. LHP and so far is actually hitting southpaws better than right-handers.

There's no huge step up in skills here, and no statistical "breakout" looming. But at 24, Rizzo continues to grow and mature as a hitter and should continue to be a productive corner infielder for years to come. And it's not unreasonable to see a small uptick in his numbers the remainder of this season if luck cooperates.

 

What's wrong with Prado? ... Martin Prado (3B,ARI) has never been a huge power threat or base stealer. What he was, though, was a hitting machine who could be relied on for a .300 average. But Prado's average is lurking below .240 these days. What's wrong?

Year    AB    BA    xBA   bb%   ct%   Eye    h%    PX   HR/SB   Spd  SBO 
====   ===   ====  ====   ===   ===   ====   ==   ===   =====   ===  ===
2010   599   .307  .293     6    86   0.47   34    99   15/ 5   122   5%
2011   551   .260  .276     6    91   0.65   27    80   13/ 4   113   9%
2012   617   .301  .291     9    89   0.84   33    86   10/17   119  11%
2013   286   .238  .269     7    89   0.63   25    61    5/ 1    78   7%

Prado's BPIs aren't all that different from previous seasons:

  • He's drawing a few less walks than last season, but his bb% isn't outside the range we'd expect based on data from the previous three seasons.
  • His hallmark as a hitter—excellent contact rate—is still firmly in place.
  • Prado's h% explains a lot of the difference. He's produced hit rates above league average (30%) for most of his career.
  • After stealing 17 bags last year, Prado is 1-for-5 in steal attempts this season.

As the centerpiece of Arizona's Justin Upton trade, Prado has no doubt been a disappointment thus far. The good news is his batting average should improve over the balance of the season given his still solid fundamentals. That still probably leaves Prado's numbers well short of last year's totals, especially in the stolen base category.  But given that he'd never before stolen more than five bases in a season, it seemed unlikely he would repeat last year's SB total, anyway.

 

Is de la Rosa in control? ... Before missing almost all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Jorge de la Rosa (LHP, COL) fell into the BaseballHQ.com category of pitchers who were "one skill away" from turning the corner and becoming true fanalytic assets. That one skill in de la Rosa's case was control. So far this season, the lefty has limited walks and improved results have followed.

Year     IP  ERA   xERA  WHIP   G/L/F    Ctl  Dom  Cmd  S%  hr/9  hr/f  BPV  
====    ===  ====  ====  ====  ========  ===  ===  ===  ==  ====  ====  ===
2009    185  4.38  3.71  1.38  45/21/34  4.0  9.4  2.3  70   1.0   12%   83   
2010    122  4.22  3.38  1.31  52/19/29  4.1  8.4  2.1  71   1.1   16%   71
2011     59  3.51  3.73  1.19  43/20/38  3.4  7.9  2.4  71   0.6    7%   94
2012                -----------Pitched only 12 innings-----------   
2013     93  3.19  4.07  1.29  46/26/28  3.2  5.9  1.8  76   0.5    6%   44

De la Rosa's post-TJ surgery skill set raises questions:

  • His control has noticeably improved, but perhaps at the expense of strikeouts.
  • De la Rosa's improved ERA is a product of a lucky strand rate.
  • His hr/f is well below the level established in two prior full seasons.

By all accounts, de la Rosa is fully healthy again and his surface numbers are encouraging. But below the surface, a marginal Dom rate, an historically low HR/9 rate and a reliance on stranding base runners raise questions about his ability to maintain the level of performance he's displayed so far. And if he's unable to maintain the newfound control, there's a real potential for his second half to turn ugly. The window of opportunity to sell de la Rosa may not be open long.

 

First Impression Anthony Rendon (3B/2B, WAS)

CALLED UP: April 21
CURRENT ROLE: Starting 2B
POTENTIAL FUTURE ROLE: Starting 3B/2B
2013 MINORS STATS: 2012 Harrisburg (AA) – 152 AB, .319/.461/.603, 11 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 1.20 Eye

Year        AB   BA   bb%  ct%   Eye    G/L/F    PX  hr/f  HR/SB   xBA
======     ===  ====  ===  ===  ====  ========  ===  ====  =====  ====
2012-aa#    82  .162   13   76  0.69     --      --   --   3/ 0    ---
2013-aa#   152  .319   20   78  1.20     --      --   --   6/ 1    ---
2013-mlb    90  .333    8   81  0.47  33/34/33  105   4%   1/ 1   .298
# MLEs

We have comparatively little data on Rendon, but the early results are impressive:

  • For having so little professional experience, he's shown a good Eye at the plate.
  • With 10 xBH in his first 90 ABs, we can already see Rendon's enticing power.
  • The sample is small, but his contact rate so far is league average.

Rendon just turned 23 earlier this month and spent little time in the minors before getting his first taste of the big leagues. His initial stint was brief, but he got another shot—this time at second base—after an injury to Danny Espinosa (2B, WAS). He's still learning the new position and committed 3 errors in his first 13 games. But Rendon is making such an impression with his bat that it's been hard to justify taking him out of the lineup. Nothing in his performance so far suggests he won't be a mainstay in the Nationals lineup for years to come.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.