Here’s a closer look at the newest member of the Atlanta Braves, LHP Luiz Gohara.
Age: 21, Born 7/31/1996
Acquired: 1/7/2017 from Seattle in the three team deal involving Mallex Smith and Drew Smyly. Seattle originally signed him at age 16 from Brazil
Florida: 3-1, 1.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 36.1 IP in 7 starts, 39 K, 10 BB
Mississippi: 2-1, 2.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 52 IP in 11 starts/1 relief appearance, 60 K, 18 BB
Gwinnett: 2-2, 3.31 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 35.1 IP in 7 starts, 48 K, 16 BB
Total: 7-4, 2.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 123.2 IP in 25 starts/1 relief appearance, 147 K, 44 BB
I saw Gohara once in person, but he wasn’t at his best. That’s certainly understandable since it was his first start in Triple A, so I’m leaning heavier on video than in person evaluation this time.
Fastball: Gohara’s fastball is a big fastball that he can capably run up near 100 MPH if he lets loose. He’s going to sit in the mid 90s as a starter, but will be in the upper 90s out of the pen if the Braves choose to use him there. The pitch is a true plus plus offering, and one of the best fastballs in the system for starting prospects.
Slider: The slider is Gohara’s second plus pitch. It’s a hard, tight pitch which he uses to strike hitters out. It’s a fun pitch to watch because when he’s on, he can really make a hitter look foolish with the movement it produces.
Change: Gohara has the change as his third pitch, and it’s clearly behind the other two. He’s improved it and turned it into a usable pitch, but that’s all it is. It’s a pitch I think could become big league average- but that’s really all he needs, that third pitch to keep opposing hitters off balance.
Command: The game I saw he didn’t have his command, walking five hitters in just four and two thirds. He’s been better than that overall on the year, but his command can be shaky at times. He’s a guy who only walked 3.2 per nine this year, but has walked 5.4 per nine as recently as 2015. Command is never going to be his strength and if he’s a little off on a given night an opponent can make him pay for it. Still he’s made enough strides that I can picture it becoming fringy to average in his prime. With the quality of his stuff, that’s really all he needs.
Overall: Luiz Gohara has the frontline starter package. He’s a big, thickly built lefty with the frame to handle a big workload- though he will need to keep his weight under control during his career as he is already a bigger guy. He’s got a plus plus fastball with a plus breaking ball, and is able to mix in a more than adequate change. His command is still a work in progress, but he’s been improving it. He’s probably the kind of guy who will take a few starts to get his feet wet and gain a better understanding of what he’s doing before he really turns it on, but once he settles in he’s a tough guy for hitters to make good contact off of, as he does an excellent job of limiting extra base hits.
I think he may not come in and be a star immediately, or even in 2018, but that he could by 2019 become a guy good enough to be considered a #2 or 3 starter. If that command improves even more than what’s expected then his ceiling would increase even more.