The Braves, the top minor league system in the game, are churning more talent to the bigs.
Gohara signed with the Mariners for $800,000 as a 16-year-old in 2012 out of Brazil, and he had perhaps the best stuff in Seattle’s system, but conditioning and command issues slowed his progression. A trip to extended spring training in 2016 finally woke Gohara up, but after his best season as a pro the Mariners traded him to the Braves in January for outfielder Mallex Smith and righthanded reliever Shae Simmons. His progress in the Braves’ system was in sharp contrast to that in Seattle. The Braves tend to be aggressive with promotions, and Gohara met the challenge. He reached Triple-A Gwinnett at age 20 and, despite some command issues, was striking out more than 12 batters per nine innings before being called up.
Gohara has arguably the best pure stuff of any starting pitcher in the Braves’ organization, and that is saying a lot considering the arms (Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, etc.) in the system. His fastball sits 94 mph and he can run it up to 98 without maximum effort. He touched 100 mph in the Arizona Fall League last year. He combines that easy gas with a pitchability, a plus slider, and breaking ball feel that belies his age.
On the other side of the ledger, there continue to be conditioning concerns. He’s a lot heavier than his listed weight of 210 pounds, which can impact his durability. He has gotten compared to C.C. Sabathia because of his size, but also because he’s lefthanded and throws as hard as Sabathia in his prime, rare for a lefthanded starter.
Gohara can carry his velocity well into starts, but his 123.1 innings this season are by far a career-high.
WHAT TO EXPECT
With his innings already nearly double his previous highest total, it’s unclear how far the Braves will push Gohara, who turned 21 in July. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League last fall but is not slated to return this year. Most likely, Atlanta will give Gohara a couple of turns in the rotation and either shut him down or perhaps have him pitch out of the bullpen to protect his young arm.