Mariners' Gohara Ahead Of The Curve




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DURHAM, N.C.—Former international scouting director Bob Engle left the Mariners in October, but he did leave a nice parting gift. The Mariners' biggest international signing in 2012 was 16-year-old lefthander Luiz Gohara from Brazil, who signed for $880,000.

Gohara impressed the Mariners during instructional league last fall, showing a fastball that gets as high as 94 mph, along with the potential for a plus curveball and a changeup.

"He is really a special, special pitcher," pitching coordinator Rick Waits said. "He's a very strong kid at 16 and he's got tremendous aptitude for his age. He just wants the ball, he loves to pitch and he already has three pitches. Just like any 16-year-old, they need to be refined, but they're there."

In addition to his intriguing stuff, Gohara already has a burly, 6-foot-3, 220-pound build, so it's easy to dream on him as a future top-of-the-rotation workhorse.

After instructional league, Gohara headed to the Mariners' Venezuelan academy to get acclimated to the team's workout routines and throwing program. He worked on his curveball and began trying to learn English through the Rosetta Stone software.

Gohara had been listed on Brazil's preliminary World Baseball Classic roster and would have been one of the more intriguing prospects to keep an eye on at the event, but he won't be joining Brazil's team.

Instead, Gohara will report for his first spring training camp. He hasn't been assigned to a 2013 roster yet, but the Mariners aren't afraid to be aggressive with one of their youngest prospects.

"We'll start talking about that here in the next couple weeks, once the mini-camp gets going," farm director Chris Gwynn said. "We'll kind of set a course for all these kids. We'll see how he looks and how he's assimilating into the USA. More than likely, if I had to guess, he might stay here in Arizona . . . We're not scared of the age part, we just want to make sure he's ready."

Gohara won't be 17 until July 31 and has a good chance of being the youngest player in the Rookie-level Arizona League, a league where the median age in 2012 was 20.1.

"He's definitely ahead of the curve, development-wise, in terms of his ability," Gwynn said. "But socialization and all that stuff, we just want to make sure not to push him too hard. We'll get him happy here in the States, and I think that's when guys take off."

Marinade

• Seattle re-signed Felix Hernandez's older brother, righthander Moises Hernandez, to a minor league contract. Moises will be 29 in 2013 and went 5-2, 6.66 for Double-A Jackson in 2012.

• The Mariners added lefthander Eric Niesen, 27, who last pitched in the independent Atlantic League. He was the Mets' third-round pick in 2007 and reached Double-A in their system.