Mar. 14, 2012; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper in the dugout prior to the game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
• Harper vs Teheran: The 1-2 fastball that was called strike three on a then-18-year-old Bryce Harper when he faced a then-20-year-old Julio Teheran in the first inning of the 2011 All-Star Futures Game this past July hit the same spot that the Atlanta Braves' top pitching prospect had hit with the first pitch he threw to the Washington Nationals' 2010 no.1 overall pick in that at bat. In an interview after the game, the future Nats' outfielder told MLB Network Radio host Grant Paulsen that Tejeran, who signed as an amateur free agent out of Columbia in 2007, was the most impressive prospect he saw at the All-Star Game's showcase of the next generation of major league-ready talent. "He's a big-leaguer, you know, Double-A or Triple-A," Harper said, "and he's been up to the big leagues, and he's always been good. Every single guy on that club can pitch, every single guy on our club can pitch and we got some guys on our club who can swing it, and it's just a lot of fun to be out here."
Harper only got as far as Double-A last year in his first pro season. Teheran made five appearances and three starts at the major league level in 2011 and pitched at Triple-A for most of the year, making 24 starts and throwing 144.2 IP for the Atlanta's top minor league affiliate. In his fourth year in the Braves' organization, Teheran was (15-3) record with a 2.55 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 48 walks (2.99 BB/9) and 122 K's (7.59 K/9). In 19.2 IP in the majors, Teheran had a 5.03 ERA, a 5.87 FIP, eight walks (3.66 BB/9) and 10 K's (4.58 K/9). The two top prospects met up again tonight in the top of the second inning. Adam LaRoche was already at first with one down after a leadoff walk. Teheran started Harper with two low 90's changeups outside both of which Harper fouled off, then Tejeran went up high with an 0-2 fastball outside that got the now-19-year-old slugger chasing for a swinging K.
"That was a cruel pitch sequence," a Braves fan watching the game with me said. "It's Spring Training, Ross," he said, referring to the catcher [David Ross] calling pitches for Atlanta tonight.
Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg had already allowed two runs at that point, surrendering a two-out opposite field single by Brian McCann in the Braves' first and a two-out, two-run opposite field HR by Dan Uggla, who powered a 1-2 fastball outside over the right field wall to make it 2-0 Braves after one. The Nats' 23-year-old right-hander retired the Braves in order in the bottom of the second. Strasburg gave up back-to-back singles by young Braves' Luis Durango and Andrelton Simmons to start the third and one out later he walked Brian McCann in front of the man who took him deep in the first. Uggla almost didn't it again, but his fly to left-center died on the track and the Braves settled for the run that scored on the sac fly. 3-0 Atlanta after three.
Chad Tracy brought Mark DeRosa around with a one-out, two-run HR to right-center off Julio Teheran in the top of the fourth and one-out later, after Chipper Jones threw Harper out on a grounder toward third, Jesus Flores hit an opposite field blast to right, over Jason Heyward's head and over the wall for a game-tying solo blast. 3-3 game in the fourth. Stephen Strasburg got a weak grounder to second for the first out of the fourth, but he left a 97 mph 2-0 fastball up for Jason Heyward and the 22-year-old Braves slugger crushed it, sending a solo shot soaring out to right. 4-3 Braves. Strasburg's done after 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, 1 K, 73 pitches, 44 strikes. For the record, Heyward's got a .489/.500/.867 line with six doubles, a triple and 3 HR's when he starts with 2-0 counts over the first 46 plate appearances of his career.
After Braves' starter Julio Teheran's 4.0 IP (in which he allowed 5 hits, 3 runs, all earned, on 2 HR's with 2 walks and 2 K's), Randall Delgado took over on the hill for Atlanta. The 22-year-old Panamanian right-hander retired the first six Nationals he faced in the fifth and sixth, striking out three. Bryce Harper worked a leadoff walk out of Delgado in his third at bat in the sixth. Delgado, who signed as an amateur free agent in 2006 and was the second-highest ranked right-hander on Baseball America's 2012 Braves' prospect list before this season behind only Arodys Vizcaino, stranded the Nats' top prospect at third three outs later.
Chad Tracy hit a two-out RBI single off Delgado to tie it at 4-4 in the Nationals' eighth and Carlos Maldonado drove in the go-ahead run with a ground-rule double to right-center that brought Tracy in to give the Nationals a 5-4 lead after seven and a half, but the Braves struck back with outfielder Jarrod Parraz homering to deep center off Ryan Mattheus to tie it at 5-5 in the bottom of the frame, before Jose Constanza singled and then scored the go-ahead run on an RBI line drive to center by Luis Durango that put the Braves ahead for good at 6-5. That's how it ends. BOX SCORE.