Luiz Gohara was long considered to be a pitching prospect with some of the most raw talent in the Braves farm system. Given his high octane fastball and wipeout slider, at the very least he looked like he had a future in the bullpen as a lefty with shutdown stuff. The Braves had higher aspirations for Luiz, however and he showed in the minor leagues that he had real potential as a starting pitcher which increased his ceiling dramatically.
Unfortunately, off the field troubles and injuries derailed him from ever achieving that lofty ceiling in Atlanta.
What went right in 2019?
In short, not much. We heard from early on last offseason that Gohara had gotten himself in shape and gotten his mind right after a serious of setbacks in his personal life including deaths and illnesses in his family which understandably impacted him. Given Gohara’s thick build (to put it kindly), he was already going to have to be a guy that constantly watched his fitness and his injury issues from the 2018 season combined with his turbulent personal life made that all the more difficult. However, it sounded like Luiz was in a good place from a fitness and mental wellness perspective during the offseason, so we had at least that to go on.
What went wrong in 2019?
Basically everything else. Issues with his shoulder during the 2018 season made it where he only pitched 19.2 innings that year (well, that combined with the aforementioned personal issues early on in the season). Those issues cropped up again in spring training this year and he never pitched an inning in the minors or majors in 2019. Everyone tried to get a sense of when we could realistically see him back with the team as the season dragged on and in mid-July, it was announced that Gohara underwent an arthroscopic procedure to clean up his shoulder which would cost him the rest of the season.
Once that happened, it was clear that Gohara’s future with the organization was very much in doubt especially with the team needing roster spots and his health going forward an open question at best. At the beginning of August, the team released Gohara after designating him for assignment at the end of July.
What to expect in 2020?
Barring some sort of unforeseen miracle, Luiz will definitely not be with the Braves in 2020. The Angels signed Gohara to a minor league contract towards the end of August, so it is safe to assume that once he is cleared to play again, his next step will be taken with them. The biggest issue that he will have to address is whether or not he is actually healthy now and given the track record for shoulder injuries with pitchers combined with the amount of time he has missed, that is going to be tough to say the least.
After that, it will be about being able to show that he can maintain his body and his mind enough to showcase his considerable talent in the major leagues. If he is healthy, he still possesses the ability to be a dynamic major league arm. However, there are a lot of “ifs” that go along with him at this point in his career despite only being 23 years old. Here’s hoping that he is able to get on track in 2020.