Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (49) delivers a pitch last season against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park (File)
The Atlanta Braves didn’t lose faith in Julio Teheran’s potential despite his struggles during a second season with Class AAA Gwinnett in 2012 and their patience was certainly rewarded.
The native of Columbia won 14 games as a rookie last season and is now looked on as the team’s future ace.
Teheran, who turned 23 in January, will be paid as such, with the Braves giving him a six-year contract worth $32.4 million that also includes an option year for 2020 worth $12 million.
“He’s got a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation guy for a long time,” general manager Frank Wren said.
The deal, of course, doesn’t rival the eight-year $135 million contract that first baseman Freddie Freeman received, but it is another step in Wren’s goal of locking up the team’s top young players.
Teheran’s contract, the second biggest ever given a major league pitcher with between one and two years of service time, covers two seasons of the pitcher’s potential free agency when the option is included.
The right-hander, who finished third in the National League rookie of the year voting, had a 3.20 ERA in 30 starts last season and struck out 170 in 185 2/3 innings while walking just 45.
“He’s made great strides and we saw him rise to the occasion in the biggest moments,” Wren said. “It gave us confidence that he had the maturity to be a player we can count on for a long time.
Prior to the Freeman and Teheran deals, the Braves hadn’t been in the practice of giving long-term deals to young players. The exception was catcher Brian McCann, who signed this winter with the New York Yankees as a free agent. The Duluth graduate received a six-year deal with an option season in 2007.
Fregosi dead at 71
Braves major league scout and adviser Jim Fregosi died Friday at age 71 in Miami after suffering a series of strokes in the Cayman Islands while on a baseball alumni cruise.
Fregosi, an American League all-star with the Angels who was traded to the Mets for Nolan Ryan, played 18 seasons in the majors and then managed four teams, taking Philadelphia to the World Series in 1993.
That Phillies team defeated the Braves in the National League Championship Series before losing to Toronto in the World Series on Joe Carter’s walk-off home run.
Fregosi joined the Braves 13 years ago as a special assistant to general manager John Schuerholz.
Floyd right on schedule
Veteran right-hander Gavin Floyd, signed for $4 million as a free agent, has been throwing off the mound since January and hopes to be ready to pitch for the Braves in May — 12 months after Tommy John elbow surgery.
Floyd, who made four starts for the Chicago White Sox last year before needing surgery, has a 70-70 career record with a 4.48 ERA. His best season was in 2008, when he won 17 games.
The Braves will likely start the season with either with either left-hander Alex Wood or veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia as the fifth starter, with the 31-year-old Floyd waiting in the wings.
Hitters getting early start
The Braves’ first full-squad spring workout isn’t until Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., but many of the position players were already on hand when pitchers had their first workout Friday.
Among the early arrivals was second baseman Dan Uggla, who hit just .179 last season and wasn’t included on the roster for the National League Division Series loss to the loss Angeles Dodgers.
The Braves shopped Uggla during the offseason, but found no takers. If he doesn’t bounce back, utility infielder Ramiro Pena is an option at second base. So is Tyler Pastornicky once he is fully recovered from ACL knee surgery.
needs hip surgery
Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who turned 80 on Feb. 5, needed a partial left hip replacement after slipping on some ice in Atlanta.
The survery was performed by Dr. Scott Gillogly, a Braves physican, on Friday and Aaron will like need 6-8 weeks to recover.
The Braves are planning to honor the legendary slugger during their home opener on April 8, which will be the 40th anniversary of the day he hit his historic 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth as became baseball’s home run king.