Julio Teheran and Kris Medlen share a home ballpark and both enjoy the otherworldly defense of Andrelton Simmons so a statistical comparison is on a very level field. Teheran rebounded from a down year in 2012 and began to fulfill his promise as one of the game’s best young arms. Medlen is to some extent cruising in goodwill from 2012. It would be a major shock if he ever approached 1.57 ERA again. In fact, the indicators do not support last year’s 3.11 mark. Teheran’s buzz could build as the season approaches and while most collective rankings have him trailing Medlen some drafters sprang for the youngster first.
|ESPN Top 300||Mock Draft Central||FantasyGameday Mock #1|
|Kris Medlen||27th SP / 97th overall||21 / 110||Round 12, Pick 3|
|Julio Teheran||32 / 128||31 / 144||Round 8, Pick 9|
Teheran sewed the seeds of a successful 2013 in Spring Training. With a 1.04 ERA and a 12.1 K/9 he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the exhibition season. This signaled a large improvement over 2012 when his Spring Training ERA was 9.37 and he spent most of the year in Triple-A posting mediocre stats. All things considered, a consolidation season was in order. A stellar 2010 pushed Teheran up the ladder extremely quickly and he reached the International League at 20. Able to settle into a more normal development timeline he is poised for more success in 2014.
Teheran is not only blessed with top-notch “stuff” but he showed an advanced feel for his craft. He mixed in four pitches and commanded them well enough to only walk 5.8% of batters. His K/BB was 3.78. Aided by a 65.4% First Strike rate he forced hitters to swing at over half of his pitches. His 0.92 GB/FB was in line with his minor league marks. He was burned by home runs in 2011 but brought his ratio down to a very manageable 1.07 HR/9.
Teheran’s only statistical outlier was his 80.9% strand rate. He was fortunate to hold hitters to a .258 BABIP with men on base and more so with his .234 BABIP with runners in scoring position. This is not repeatable but it indicates that Teheran does not lose his edge while pitching from the stretch as some young hurlers do.
Kris Medlen had a successful year in 2012 but his 7.17 K/9 was over a strikeout less than Teheran’s rate. He had a high First Strike rate and Swinging Strike rate but his fastball only averages 89.4 mph. That velocity is the lowest among the top 25 starting pitchers in Swinging Strike rate. Two Fangraphs authors developed a model that says Medlen’s strikeout rate is not low, but appropriate for his skill set.
Medlen’s ground ball rate spiked to 53.4% in 2012. He was still ground ball heavy in 2013 but lost over 8%, mostly to line drives which came in at a hefty 24.1%. Per Brooks Baseball, his ISO against increased on all his pitches. He endured an extremely rough stretch from mid-June through July in which his cutter was hit harder than Wile E. Coyote was by one of his own anvils. Throughout 2013 all of Medlen’s fastballs had lower pitch values and suffered a big jump in HR/FB.
While Medlen is still useful he appears to have peaked. Numerous stats indicate he gave up harder contact last year. With sub par velocity he does not have much margin for error. Teheran has strikeout upside, a better prospect pedigree, and room to improve.