Luiz Gohara: Strange Profile
Luiz Gohara is developed lefty without much polish, from Brazil, where the Mariners are king…
That first sentence may have been a lot to take in, but it’s great clickbait, and now that I’ve got you here you may as well read the whole article.
It all began in 2012, Gohara was signed at 16, for a record $800,000.00, the most any Brazilian player had ever earned on the international market. He was known for his big body, and big fastball, sitting in the low 90s.
Two years later, I was in the midst of catching full blown prospect fever, and had made my first ever prospect related purchase, the 2014 Baseball America prospect manual. I was in a keeper league at the time, and had no business scouring as deeply as I did, but I needed to not only be ahead, but be mind bogglingly laughably beyond where the competition was when it came to prospect research. I was highlighting players in the book I wanted to find more about, and when I hit the fairly barren Mariners farm, I found him along with his “60 extreme” value (fairly accurate assessment). My interest was piqued, and I kept tabs ever since.
While scouting the stat line is never recommended, it’s hard to not find positive value in a player’s statistical success. Simply put, Gohara’s results are a profile that you want to see in a MLB arm. As a player 2.7 years younger than his competition, he racked up 10.5 K/9, issued 3.0 BB/9, and a 55.38 ground ball rate according to MLB farm. So his walk rate is fairly average for someone in Rookie, Short Season, and Low A, and his strikeout and walk rates were both strong.
At the same time, he hasn’t kept fellow top prospects off base, he has had them whiffing at an above average rate. Against other team’s top 20 minor leaguers, he suffered a .295 average, but managed a 21.4% strikeout rate, and an 8.3% walk rate. He was giving up way too many hits, but he still managed to limit hitters’ ability to work walks while keeping his strikeouts up.
So as previously stated, scouting the stats isn’t a perfect science, but it’s nice to see a player experiencing success. However, the scouting side has been pumping up Gohara as well. He stands 6’3”, and has a reported weight of 210 lbs., although this has fluctuated, and this season reports say he has slimmed down. So let’s dig into said reports.
Gohara throws from a ¾ arm slot that sits 92-95, earns plus grades, and according to Baseball America, he hit 101 at one point this season with it. This has always been Gohara’s carrying pitch. His slider and changeup are still very much developing. His slider could be league average, and his changeup likely his third pitch. Unfortunately, his command may have to face more obstacles than most other 20-year-old pitchers. Being from Brazil, his local coaching and competition wasn’t what you’d call ideal. So his command was questionable coming into professional baseball. Then more worrisome, his body isn’t quite sculpted to the proportions of Michelangelo’s David. He’s reportedly staying in better shape, but having that be an issue before your 20th birthday is never a good thing. Pairing his poor body with his below average athleticism, and you’ve got a player who has struggled to repeat his mechanics at times causing spurts of wildness. All in all, his power fastball and fat body leave us with many possible outcomes.
2016 was Gohara’s best season by far, and considering his potential to be a middle of the rotation arm, is the starting block of his dynasty league relevance in leagues that roster 500-600 players. Gohara will likely enter 2017 at High-A Bakersfield, and if he continues to succeed, his value could begin moving up prospect lists quickly. He doesn’t look like a future superstar, but this could be a key cog for years to come, and a valuable trade chip considering his age. He’s a deeper name, but he should go onto all dynasty leaguers watch lists.