'Legit' Gohara's prospects look promising

Hurler rose from Class A Advanced to impressing in Majors, including final start

'Legit' Gohara's prospects look promising

MIAMI -- As Luiz Gohara has spent the past month at the Major League level, he has provided reason to believe the trade that brought him to Atlanta might prove to be the most influential variable to the Braves' attempt to further distance themselves from the painful portion of their rebuild next year.

Gohara took advantage of a chance to once again flash his tremendous potential during Friday night's 6-5 loss to the Marlins. Making his final start of a season that began with him in Class A Advanced Florida's rotation, the CC Sabathia clone proved nearly flawless through five innings and then saw the value of his strong effort evaporate after he was given a chance to pitch the seventh inning.

"There's no reason he can't be part of the rotation next year," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's a legit guy. He's a potential top-of-the-rotation type of guy."

The casual fan likely didn't have this expectation in January, when the Braves acquired Gohara and promising Minor League reliever Thomas Burrows from the Mariners in exchange for Mallex Smith and Shae Simmons. But the potential value of this trade has certainly been seen as this year has progressed.

Gohara stands as the most impressive of all the pitching prospects the Braves have brought to Atlanta over the past few seasons. The physically imposing southpaw features a four-seam fastball that per Statcast™ touched 100 mph and averaged 97.8 mph as he allowed the Marlins four runs and six hits over six-plus innings.

The line was not indicative of the effort made by the 21-year-old Brazilian, who retired 16 of the first 18 batters he faced and then allowed four straight hits before concluding the two-run sixth with consecutive strikeouts.

Snitker could have allowed Gohara to end the season on this note, but with the pitch count at 80, he stuck with his young hurler, partly because the bottom two spots in the order were due up in the seventh.

Tyler Moore doubled and Miguel Rojas walked before Gohara exited and watched the Braves' bullpen struggle throughout what proved to be a decisive four-run inning.

"I had confidence in him when he went out in the seventh," Snitker said. "It probably was his last hitter, whether he walked him or popped him up there. He's got stuff that where we were in the lineup, you can navigate through that. Rojas was his last hitter either way."

Gohara earned that confidence as he had completed at least six innings in three straight starts since his Sept. 6 Major League debut. But as he threw 24 pitches during the stress-filled sixth in Miami, there was at least reason to wonder if he was fatiguing near the end of a season in which he has thrown 70 more innings than his previous professional high.

Still, at the end of a season that included stops at three different Minor League levels and an effective month at the big league level, Gohara said he feels good from both a mental and physical perspective.

"I still feel strong," Gohara said. "If I had another game to go out there and throw, I would just go out there and compete."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.