Do The Risks Outweigh The Potential For The Braves’ Luiz Gohara?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

According to David O’Brien of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution (click here for the article) the Braves could call up Luiz Gohara today.  It’s unknown what role he’d operate in, whether he’d start or pitch out of the bullpen, and while there is significant upside it doesn’t mean there aren’t questions.  As O’Brien notes:

There have been some questions about his maturity and conditioning, but no one questions the talent and “live arm” of the Brazilian lefty, who came to the Braves from the Mariners along with lefty relief prospect Thomas Burrows in a January trade for outfield Mallex Smith and reliever Shae Simmons to Seattle.

Gohara has pitched at three levels of the minors this season, producing at each one:

LevelIPERAWHIPK/9BB/9GB%
High-A36.11.981.189.662.4856.8%
Double-A52.02.601.1510.383.1244.4%
Triple-A35.13.311.3312.234.0840.0%

There’s obviously two trends that you don’t want to ignore, and that’s the walks rising and the groundballs falling as he’s advanced.  Considering his minor league BB/9 of 3.8, the struggles in regards to his control shouldn’t be much of a surprise.  That said, heading into the season there was thoughts that improved conditioning had helped him improve his control.  As Prospect 361 noted:

All of the pitches are playing up because he can now control his arsenal better.  A big part of the reason he is now throwing strikes is that he lost weight.  Last year, he pitched at 240 pounds and we expressed deep concern.   However, he lost 25 pounds and it showed both physically and in his results.

So now what do we think?  If he is going to struggle with his control he is going to get himself into trouble, especially if the deflated fly ball rate continues.  The owner of a career 1.67 GO/AO, he was at 1.04 at Double-A and 0.93 at Triple-A.  That brings in home run concerns, especially pitching in Atlanta (as we’ve seen with Julio Teheran), and when coupled with walks the results could be disastrous.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t potential, especially long-term, but even if he does draw a spot start or two in September he’s not going to be a pitcher that can be trusted.  There are a lot of questions to be answered, especially given the numbers this season, and seeing him struggle initially would not be a surprise.

Sources – MILB.com, Prospect 361, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!

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