For 12 years the Teherans lived in Olaya, a neighborhood in Cartagena, a city on Colombia's Caribbean coast better known for its picturesque colonial quarter than for the open sewers, gun-shot victims, unpaved streets, and poor neighborhoods.
"There's a lot of poverty and a dicey scene, Julio's father, Julio Sr. said. "People drink a lot of rum and party a lot. It's dangerous."
During that 12 years, 10 family members, including young Julio, shared a run-down, one-story home owned by Zavalza, Julio's maternal grandmother. They had a single toilet located in a muddy backyard. The family ran a small store out of one of their rooms. When Julio's father was laid off from his security guard job a couple of years back, the family had to get by on the store's meager profits and the father's random shifts at a local fast food restaurant.
Grandmother Zavalza prayed for Julio, and now says, "I did my part by seeking the Lord's help. I would say, 'Lord, I place my grandson in your hands. You know that he is this famly's hope for getting us out of hardship.'" (Jose Orozco-ChopTalk-December, 2007)
Teheran signed with the Braves organization at age 16 for $850,000 on July 2, 2007. His parents said the family decided to go with Atlanta because of the comfort level they felt in working with Johnny Almaraz, the Braves' director of Latin America operations.
Almaraz began following Teheran around the time he was hired by the Braves in December 2006. Over the winter, the 16-year-old righthander from Colombia received considerable attention in the Caribbean Series in Puerto Rico.
Julio turned down higher offers from other teams, most notably the Yankees, to sign with the Braves for $850,000, via scouts Miguel Teheran (Julio's cousin) and Carlos Garcia.
Yes, Julio's cousin, Miguel, is one of the scouts who signed him for the Braves. And that contributed to Teheran's decision to turn down a higher off from the Yankees.
In 2008, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Teheran as 8th-best prospect in the Braves' organization. They moved Julio up to #3 in the winter before 2010 spring camp opened.
In 2011, they moved him up to #1 prospect in the Braves' farm system. And he stayed there in the springs of 2012 and 2013. So he was the Braves #1 prospect three years in a row.
- Teheran has outstanding makeup. He has an impeccable work ethic and keen determination.
- In 2009, Julio was rated as #1 prospect in the Appalachian League, by Baseball America.
- In 2010, Teheran was their pick for #1 prospect in the Carolina League.
In 2011, the Braves named Teheran their Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He was the youngest player in Triple-A on Opening Day and then ran away with the International League leadership in wins (15) and finished runner-up in ERA (2.55).
In 2016, Teheran joined Phil Niekro, Rick Mahler, Greg Maddux and Derek Lowe as the only pitchers in Atlanta history who have made three consecutive Opening Day starts. But Julio stands as the only member of this group to do so before the age of 30. (Bowman - MLB.com - 3/31/16)
December 2016: Teheran committed to play for Columbia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
July 2007: The Braves signed Julio as a free agent, out of Columbia.
- February 14, 2014: The Braves and Julio agreed to terms on a six-year contract, through the 2019 season. The deal includes an option for 2020.