clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Luiz Gohara makes a ton of sense for the Royals

The deadline has passed, but here’s how Kansas City can continue to build for the future.

MLB: Game One-Texas Rangers at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday afternoon, just as the Trade Deadline passed, the Atlanta Braves designated 23-year-old pitcher, Luiz Gohara, for assignment. A former top-100 prospect, Gohara was sidelined for the rest of the 2019 season with a shoulder injury a few weeks back.

Originally signed out of Tupã, São Paulo, Brazil in 2012 by the Seattle Mariners, Gohara spent his first four seasons hovering between rookie and A-ball in the system. In 2017, he was dealt to Atlanta for outfielder Mallex Smith and pitcher Shae Simmons. Listed as the #83 prospect in all of baseball in 2017 and the sixth ranked player in the Braves’ farm system, the Brazilian native was highly touted for his electric arm. Given a 70-grade on his fastball, the 6’3, 265 lb left-hander had the ability of sitting in the mid to upper 90’s consistently. He even touched triple digits on numerous occasions. Debuting at just 21 years of age later that season, Gohara cracked the Atlanta roster during the September call-up period. At the time, he was labeled as one of the hardest-throwing lefties in all of baseball. Managing to collect 29 1/3 innings over the course of five starts with the Braves in 2017, Gohara posted a 4.91 ERA with 31 strikeouts and a 2.75 FIP. Perhaps the most eye-popping stat was his control for a pitcher possessing the ability of flirting with 100+ mph with regularity. Walking eight batters in total, his strikeout to walk ratio was 3.88. Gohara kept the ball in the park with a 0.6 home run per nine, but offenses were able to knock him around a bit. Allowing nearly ten hits per nine (9.8), it was the right-handed bats that seemed to give the lefty trouble. But nonetheless, Gohara entered the 2018 season as one of the top up and coming pitching prospects in the National League.

Missing all of spring training in 2018, Gohara began the year in Triple-A. Poised to make an impact in the Braves’ rotation or bullpen at some point in the first few months, he was re-called in May of that season. To start his second stint in the big leagues, the left-hander notched his first career save on May 10th in Miami. Appearing in four games that month, Gohara tossed 12 innings and allowed just three earned runs, striking out 11 and walking six. Moving into June with a 2.45 ERA, he saw his production nosedive immediately. Battered around for six runs on six hits in 23 of an inning in the first outing of the month, Gohara’s numbers spiked drastically. Shelled in two more outings in June, the lefty finished the month with nine runs to his name and only 4 23 innings to show for it. Coming on only two more times in July, a reoccurring shoulder injury derailed the second half of his season as he was demoted to the minors for good before the All-Star break. Gohara finished his 2018 season with a 5.95 ERA in nine games, notching less than 20 innings.

Here is another look of him pitching for the Triple-A affiliate of Atlanta, the Gwinnett Braves (Now the Gwinnett Stripers).

Following limited action in spring training of 2019, he was returned to Triple-A where he resided until Wednesday afternoon. Determined by the Braves’ front office that time was no longer on the side of the 23-year-old pitcher, Gohara was removed from the 40-man roster, leaving him open for waiver claims by other major league clubs. Despite his intriguing upside, injuries likely became the culprit and the deciding factor in the choice to DFA him....on his birthday. Although he will not throw a single pitch in a professional game in 2019, Gohara quickly has become one of the most coveted pieces out there for rebuilding teams. With less than a year of service time, the lefty isn’t arbitration eligible until 2022 and won’t be a free agent until 2025. So in conclusion, a 23-year-old left-hander who harbors the capability of running it up over 100-mph consistently is available to snag for virtually nothing. Not to mention he was a top-100 prospect less than a year ago and has multiple years of control. If this isn’t the most ideal fit for a rebuilding bunch in Kansas City, then i’m not sure what is.

Let’s take a peek at the logistics of this move and what it would mean if the Royals’ manage to claim Gohara off waivers. First things first, a player must be removed on the 40-man roster to make space for him.

Possible players to to DFA: (Age)

  • (23) Scott Blewett (5-8, 8.29 ERA, 16 starts) w/Triple-A Omaha

  • (25) Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 9.00 ERA, 3 starts) w/Royals

(4-5, 5.75 ERA, 13 starts) w/Triple-A Omaha

  • (24) Connor Greene (3-9, 5.29 ERA, 16 starts) w/ Double-A Northwest Arkansas

  • (29) Tim Hill (1-0, 3.60 ERA, 15 innings) w/ Royals

(Call up Jake Newberry or Eric Skoglund to replace for the rest of 2019)

Now to look at the health aspect of it. The tweet from the beginning of the article stated, “The arthroscopic procedure was characterized as a clean-out/exploratory operation, to alleviate soreness he’s had since spring training”. The best part of it all? “There wasn’t any significant tissue damage discovered either”. Looking at the recovery time, arthroscopic shoulder surgery can range from 1-6 months depending on the severity. It’s already been determined that Gohara would miss the remaining games of the 2019 season, which in the Royals’ case, is a perfect scenario. Giving him ample time to recover, Kansas City could employ a pain-free Gohara for the first time since 2017 coming into spring training. Let us not forget, the Royals do have a history of giving Atlanta pitchers a second chance in their organization. In 2014, Kansas City signed Kris Medlen who was still recovering from Tommy John. Fully aware he would miss a large portion of 2015, Dayton Moore took a chance based on his success before his injury. Two years later, the club signed Mike Minor, a pitcher taxed with arm issues that inevitably ended his run in Atlanta. Both of those pitchers turned in a productive season with Kansas City. Medlen threw 58 13 innings in 2015 and was selected for the postseason roster. Minor logged 77 23 innings in 2017, while striking out 88 and posted a 2.55 ERA in one year out of the Royals’ bullpen. With less than 50 innings under his belt, Gohara still has the chance to become a front-end starter and his shoulder injury isn’t as extreme as Minor and Medlen’s surgeries. However, putting him in the Driveline Baseball program during the winter, where Kyle Zimmer revitalized his career, wouldn’t be such a bad thought.

Seeing as though the Royals only locks for the rotation are Keller, Junis, and potentially Duffy barring any shocking trade in the offseason, there are two wide-open slots for the rotation. Glenn Sparkman has flashed brilliance in certain moments, but the reality is, a 5.25 ERA and 1.417 WHIP isn’t going to solidify a spot in a rotation desperately vying for consistency. Mike Montgomery is the other man anchoring the fifth spot and he will likely get an extended look in hopes of increasing trade value. However, a poor start in 2020 and the leash will only stretch so far in a season a younger pitching staff will be taking a much larger roll. If Gohara is healthy, there won’t be much holding him back from joining the Royals from the get-go in 2020. He just turned 23 on July 31st, which would make him the youngest pitcher in both the rotation and bullpen. He would be one year and four days younger than Brad Keller, who the organization envisions being a long-term piece on the staff. The decision that presents itself is about as low-risk, high reward as it gets for Moore and the front office. If Gohara continues to be shelved with injuries, he just becomes one of those pitchers that was blessed with a million dollar arm and couldn’t unlock the potential. On the other hand, it becomes a success and the Royals add a high velocity left-hander with years of control to their roster. The move makes too much sense, which is why my confidence wavers. But if a claim is placed and Gohara heads to Kansas City, then the Royals’ questionable decision at the Trade Deadline to be idle becomes a little easier to stomach.