Luiz Gohara: From Brazil With Love
By Rocco Minsk One of the more curious moves of the offseason was the 3 way trade that brought Mallex Smith to the Rays and Drew Smiley to the Mariners. At the time, the Braves’ return was not extensively discussed among the more casual baseball public. The scouts were in the know and were on record as pillorying the Mariners for parting with Gohara. When the trade went down, Gohara was raw talent and not entirely projectable despite tearing up the low A levels. After a full season of Gohara in the Braves system and a late season cup of coffee that has had some serious taste, it is now readily apparent exactly which side won that trade.
Gohara was signed out of Brazil as a free agent prior to his 17th birthday. He was given an $800,000 signing bonus, a record for a Brazilian player. MLB Pipeline ranked Gohara as the 7th best prospect in the Braves’ system entering the season. He hits 96 on the gun and can reach close to 100 and mixes in a slider and changeup. He has a fluid delivery combined with an imposing form which has been compared to C.C. Sabathia. The C.C. Sabathia comp has also caused questions about his overall shape, but Gohara has made progress in this area which helped him take the next step this year.
After a very effective 2016 in the Mariners low A system as a 19 year old, Gohara served notice in the Arizona Fall League with 19 K’s in 11 innings. The Braves obviously saw something special and pounced on Gohara when the Mariners made his available. Then, what Gohara accomplished this season in the minors was nothing short of amazing, slicing through three levels of the minors as a 20 year old. Besides the obvious K rate that will do wonders for any fantasy owner, there were several things that stand out in Gohara’s minor league numbers this year. First, he keeps the ball in the park; only 6 HRs allowed in the minors in 123 IP. Second, his strikeout rate increased at every stop in the minors this year, ending with a 12.2 K/9 at Triple A.
Gohara is a pretty good bet for a K/9 over 9 in the majors as evidenced by his first four starts. His 4.63 ERA is skewed by his first start, where he was pounded for six runs in four innings. His strand rate is well under his minor league average and his FIP is 2.89, which suggests room for improvement next year. In 2017, Gohara has thrown more than double his previous high for innings pitched and he has had no problems going deep into games at the major league level. Gohara is penciled into the Braves rotation and should be penciled into your dynasty squad if he is not already as he has ace potential, which should be reached by 2019.