ATLANTA -- Ronald Acuna and Luiz Gohara made a rapid ascent through the Braves' Minor League system this year and established themselves as a pair of much-hyped prospects who have the capability to become impact players in Atlanta as early as next season.
When it came time for MLBPipeline.com to recognize the top players from within the Braves' talent-rich farm system, it certainly wasn't surprising to learn Acuna was named Player of the Year. Gohara's impressive rise from from Class A Advanced Florida to Atlanta's rotation earned him the Pitcher of the Year honors.
Acuna has already earned many other distinguished postseason awards, including being named MLB Pipeline's Hitter of the Year. The 19-year-old Venezuelan outfielder's impressive season conjured memories of what Andruw Jones did in 1996, when he too was experiencing his final year as a teenager.
Like Gohara, Acuna began this season with Florida and quickly earned promotions to Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. He batted .325, tallied 21 home runs, recorded 44 stolen bases and compiled a .896 OPS over the 612 plate appearances he accumulated at the three Minor League levels. Acuna's OPS improved over every level, as he produced a .814 over 126 plate appearances with Florida, a .895 over 243 plate appearances for Mississippi and a .940 over 243 plate appearances for Gwinnett.
To create a lineup spot for Acuna, the Braves will spend a portion of this offseason attempting to trade either Nick Markakis or Matt Kemp.
"That's my goal, to come in at the start of Spring Training to win a starting job," Acuna said through an interpreter. "I want to play every single day in the big leagues."
Acquired from the Mariners in January, Gohara spent this year proving to be the Braves' most physically-gifted pitching prospect. The 21-year-old Brazilian southpaw possesses a frame and delivery that has drawn comparisons to CC Sabathia. Armed with a four-seam fastball that averaged 96.4 mph as he spent September in Atlanta's rotation, Gohara has already established himself as one of the hardest-throwing left-handed starters in the Majors.
Gohara constructed a 2.98 ERA and recorded 147 strikeouts while issuing 44 walks over the 123 2/3 innings he combined to complete for Florida, Mississippi and Gwinnett. Opponents batted .228 and compiled a .298 on-base percentage against him during the Minor League portion of his season.
After issuing four walks over four innings of his Sept. 6 MLB debut, Gohara allowed less than two runs in two of his other four starts for Atlanta. He recorded nine strikeouts as he limited the Phillies to one run over seven innings on Sept. 24.
"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."
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.