Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 1/30/13
It seems like a question with a simple answer. Who will be the Braves fifth starter until Brandon Beachy returns from Tommy John surgery? What looked to be a spring training battle waged between Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran took on a different complexion after Delgado was traded to the Diamondbacks last week in the seven-player deal that brought Justin Upton to Atlanta. With days to go before pitchers and catchers report for camp, Teheran is clearly the favorite but hes not the only one of the Braves heralded young arms gunning for the spot. Listed as the organizations top prospect for the third year running by Baseball America, Teheran, 22, has had cant miss and ace in waiting accolades heaped on him for years. The righty, though, is coming off a season in which he went 7-9 with a 5.08 ERA and allowed 18 home runs in 131 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett and this comes after going 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA and just five home runs allowed in 144 13 innings in 2011. In four major league starts and seven appearances overall Teheran has a 5.19 ERA. I think he fell in love with lighting up a radar gun, and got away from being a pitcher for half a season, general manager Frank Wren said earlier this month of Teherans struggles. It's just one of those things where you never know what's going through a young guys head. Potential? Check. Major-league experience? Check. Teheran has the leg up, but dont discount Sean Gilmartin and J.R. Graham. This will be the second spring training invitation for Gilmartin, the lefty who was the Braves first-round pick out of Florida State in 2011. The teams fourth-rated prospect, Gilmartin pieced together solid but unspectacular numbers in stints at Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett last season, going 6-10 with a 3.84 ERA and hes hoping to capitalize on that exposure. I think its just more me getting out there and showing what I have, Gilmartin said. Theres more for me to show now that its my second year as opposed to last year they already had an idea of what they wanted to do with me and now its What can I do? So its time for me to show them what Im capable of doing. Hes not a hard thrower, possessing a fastball that tops out in the upper 80s, but his touch is evident with a 2.2 walks per nine innings (BB9) in 12. Gilmartin has drawn comparisons to the likes of Mike Minor and Tom Glavine and could wind up being Teherans biggest competition at camp. Then theres Graham, the Braves second-ranked player behind Teheran, who was picked in the fourth round out of Santa Clara in the same draft as Gilmartin. Deemed undersized at 6-foot, 200 pounds, hes a flamethrower with a 100 mph fastball, averaging 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings last year, including 8.3 at Double-A. Hes also shown excellent control with a BB9 of 2.1. Overall, he was 12-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 148 innings in Lynchburg and Mississippi last season. But in making his big league camp debut, Graham is keeping things simple, even if the possibilities have changed after the Delgado trade. Im just going to do my thing and hope for the best, Graham said. I havent really talked (to any of the other players) about it, but I want to go and build off these guys and the experience of big-league time and what they do and try to make myself a better pitcher. Of course theres always the potential that the Braves could sign a veteran to fill in for Beachy. Roy Oswalt says he still wants to pitch, free agents Kyle Lohse and Joe Saunders remain unsigned and CBS Sports Mike Axisa suggests the team should consider bringing back Javier Vazquez. The 36-year-old, who has yet to make a decision if hell return from a one-year hiatus, has impressed this winter in Puerto Rico as he preps for the World Baseball Classic. Hes undergoing knee surgery and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks But any of those moves seems unlikely and this is a role the Braves will likely fill from within. Will it be Teheran? Gilmartin? Graham? It figures to be the most intriguing storyline to watch this spring.
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