The Situation: September is also the time that teams like to audition their young arms for potential roles in next year’s starting rotation. Luiz Gohara is the next in the seemingly endless pipeline of Braves pitching prospects to get a shot.
The Background: Gohara was signed out of Brazil by the Mariners in 2012 for $880,000. He came appeared in the Appalachian League the following Summer, and the 16-year-old southpaw struck out better than a batter per in his brief stateside debut. The road got bumpier from there as he spent parts of the next three seasons in the Northwest League and struggled with mechanical inconsistency despite continuing to generate whiffs. He started to figure it out in 2016, putting together ten very nice second-half starts in the Midwest League followed by a dominant cameo in the AFL. The Mariners dealt him that offseason to the Braves for Mallex Smith. Gohara broke out this year, carving up three levels of the minors.
Scouting Report: Gohara pumps upper-90s fastballs out of an XL frame. He pairs that with a plus breaker that has allowed him to miss bats in bunches at every minor league stop. He doesn’t need much of a changeup to make the arsenal work towards the front of a rotation, but has struggled with the cambio and with throwing strikes generally. Between those flaws and some general stamina and durability concerns, some evaluators think he fits best as a late-inning weapon. However, he’s only 20—despite it feeling like he has been a prospect for years—and there is no. 2 or 3 starter upside here if he can make some gains in his control or change.
Immediate Big League Future: Gohara will get a few starts down the stretch as the Braves are planning on using a six-man rotation for the balance of the season. He’s only made 19 appearances above A-ball, so Atlanta may prefer to send him back to Gwinnett for the start of 2018, but he will have a chance to state his major league case in September. He’s averaged under five innings a start in the minors this year, so we will have to see how the Braves handle him in-games, and if he has enough stuff and stamina to turn over a major league lineup a third time. —Jeffrey Paternostro
Fantasy Impact: The 21-year-old southpaw is the second Brazilian-born player (Mariners flame-throwing reliever Thyago Vieira, who got the call last month, being the other) to make his major-league debut this season. That’s a next level cocktail party conversation starter. Trust me, 60 percent of the time it works every time. Seriously, this call-up is a tad unexpected considering that Gohara began the year in High-A after being acquired from Seattle in the offseason, and only ascended to Triple-A by the end of July. From a fantasy perspective, he’s an intriguing waiver wire target for re-draft formats because of his strikeout potential. His lackluster control (4.1 BB/9) is an area of major concern, but he racked up 48 strikeouts (12.2 K/9) in just 35 1/3 innings over seven starts at Triple-A Gwinnett, and owns 147 punch-outs in 123 2/3 minor-league innings spanning three levels this year. The Rangers offense may be red-hot, but they have displayed a propensity to strike out in bunches, making Gohara a nice streamer in deeper mixed-league formats for his debut this week. If he sticks in the Braves rotation over the final month, the strikeout upside alone makes him worthy of a pickup. There is substantial risk, but the strikeouts are tantalizing. —George Bissell
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