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All-Star Teheran dominating for Pelicans on the mound

Rocket Wheeler is getting used to the routine.

Pitcher Julio Teheran starts a game, and then the Pelicans manager's phone blows up as soon as it's over. National media outlets and officials from the Braves organization and around Major League Baseball want to know about the 19-year-old Teheran.

As has been the case for nearly all of Teheran's six appearances with Myrtle Beach, the reports are almost all extremely positive.

Despite his short time with the Pelicans, the kid with the big arm and dynamic change up earned a trip to the 2010 California-Carolina League All Star game, which will take place Tuesday at BB&T Coastal Field. He's struck out at least 12 in half of his six starts. And with every trip to the mound, he's appearing to continue to get better.

That's a scary thought for opposing hitters, who are batting a meager .214 against Teheran in 145 at-bats.

"At 19 years old, you come into this league, which is an older league, and you sort of dominate," Wheeler said. "It's not total domination; he's had two dominating games. His other games have been ordinary, but good enough.

"That's the youth in him."

That youth - and more importantly, the potential upside - is part of why those in the Braves organization believe it has a potential future big-leaguer in the works. It's not just his numbers (3-1, 1.38 ERA, 1.25 strikeouts/inning).

It's how the young Colombian is doing it. In half of his starts, he's confused hitters and helped turn around a team that was struggling upon his return.

"It's very special because people are recognizing what's going on here," Teheran said through interpreter and teammate Angelo Paulino. "People are getting impressed by what [he is] doing."

Indeed, people are paying attention.

It's a lot to handle for Teheran, whose family is back home in Colombia. Still, Wheeler says it has yet to become an issue.

When it's time to pitch, the 6-foot-2 right-hander is ready to go.

"He's got a lot of savvy about him," Wheeler said. "There's a lot of maturity. But there's still times when he gets in trouble. He tries to go with the heat when he needs to pitch a little bit. It's a learning process. He's going to go through that stage because he's so young."

Part of that process is learning how to limit mistakes. And better yet, learn from them. The fastball won't always get him through opposing batters; neither, the coaching staff said, will shying away from it.

That hasn't seemed to be much of an issue. Teheran's biggest strength so far has been the ability to attack hitters and get ahead in the count.

It's led to pleasant surprise game after game. The pitcher said when he checks box scores after games, he's shocked to see some of those double-digit strikeout figures.

That was the case in his most recent start, a 12-strikeout, shutout performance against Potomac on Wednesday. If this season ends like it has started, however, he may want to get used to it. Through that start against Potomac, Teheran was third in all of Minor League Baseball with 94 strikeouts combined between his stints in Myrtle Beach and Low-A Rome.

If nothing else, managers from around the Carolina League are taking notice.

"Right now, as far as where he's at, it's pretty impressive," said Potomac manager Gary Cathcart, who watched Teheran dismantle his team last week. "He's got a pretty good three-pitch mix and he'll probably add another one.

"That kind of arm is a potential top of the rotation guy [at the Major League level] if he continues to improve."

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