But the Braves opted to go another direction and keep their top Minor League pitcher down on a the farm a little longer to get some more seasoning. While he'd have liked to have made the same rapid rise that Kyle Davies has this year, Lerew understood their decision.
"You've got to look at the big picture," Lerew said. "Do you want to go up there maybe just for a start, maybe not do well and then maybe not be looked good upon? Or would you rather just go up there when you're ready and just stay there? If I've got to wait to do that, I guess that's what I've got to do."
Lerew had the opportunity to display his talents among the game's best on Sunday afternoon during the All-Star Futures Game at Comerica Park. While keeping the World Team scoreless in the second inning, he allowed a hit and issued a walk.
While nerves seemed to affect his command and cause many of his pitches to be up and out of the zone, he escaped his one-inning stint unscathed and was clocked with a mid-90s fastball that impressed many of the Braves coaches during Spring Training.
Although it looks like Tim Hudson and Mike Hampton have returned to health and will be ready to rejoin the starting rotation when the All-Star break concludes, there still could be spots available in the bullpen for the 22-year-old Lerew, who was taken by the Braves in the 11th round of the 2001 draft.
"I'm excited to see what happens at the end of this year," Lerew said. "I want to see if I can get the callup at the end of the year or sometime soon if I keep pitching well."
Lerew went 6-2 with a 3.93 ERA and registered 64 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings to begin this season with Double-A Mississippi. The results earned him a June 24 promotion to Triple-A Richmond, where he's gone 0-1 and posted a 2.75 ERA in three starts.
As he stood among some of the game's best young talents on Sunday afternoon, it was obvious Lerew had made the right decision a few years earlier. Instead of accepting Joe Paterno's invitation to come play quarterback at Penn State, he chose the baseball route and has since developed into one of the game's potential future stars.
"I'm glad I picked the decision I picked, because I couldn't be in a better position than I am now," Lerew said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.