Last November I found myself staring at pick 304 in a 16-team fresh dynasty draft. Nowhere near no-man’s land, but at a point in the draft where I wanted to grab some upside instead of going chalk with yet, another value pick. As an aside, my team is a likely 2018 contender with an average player age of about 27. As I stared into the abyss better known as the Fantrax player pool, I found myself remembering a name that had been uttered by a few league mates much earlier in the draft. That name, of course, being Luiz Gohara (in case the title didn’t tip you off). Admittedly, I didn’t know much of Gohara except that he was a guy that looked like he never turned down seconds (or thirds) during Thanksgiving. Well, that’s not completely true. I did stream him last September because I noticed he had an appealing strikeout rate. Oh, and he was playing against the lowly Marlins, which have since turned into The Replacements, but I digress. As per all my draft selections, I began to sift through any data I could find before selecting CC Sabathia’s clone. What I found immediately intrigued me.
The 21 year-old Brazilian native is officially listed at 6’3” and 210lbs (doubtful) and despite his youth, managed to skyrocket through three levels of the Braves’ farm system before making his MLB debut last September.
His arm slot is 3/4 and his delivery is nothing fancy, which could make it more easily repeatable. Meanwhile, his repertoire features both a 2-seam fastball and a rising 4-seam fastball (4FB) ,which can occasionally touch 100mph and routinely sits between 95-98. In the aforementioned start vs. Miami (bored, so watched my SP stream) he was able to locate that pitch to both sides of the plate. Just how ridiculous is his 4FB? Oh, well I’m glad you asked (wink). Mind you, he started just 5 MLB games, but take a look at where he ranked among left-handed starting pitchers in terms of average 4FB velocity.
His secondary and solid strikeout pitch is his slider (SL), which sits in the mid-80s with 10-4 movement. Some SL were sharper than others and I don’t know if that’s because he lost feel for that pitch or if he was varying the break/speed for variation during this particular game. What do I know though? I’m just a Floridian that happened to check out his MIA start. Moving along, he was able to locate the SL nearly as well as his FB and avoided contact in and out of the zone with it. However, he was lucky to get some swing and misses when he occasionally hung this pitch, which was likely due to the velocity drop from his FB and the unfamiliarity the Marlins’ hitters had with him.
He’s still developing a changeup (CH) and gee, that’s “new” for a pitching prospect. The CH hovers between 87-90 and has the movement of a loose curveball. Ideally, he develops that pitch as he matures and it starts to dive downwardly/away from right-handed hitters. Random stat time.
2017 starting pitchers with at least 5 starts in September/October (Gohara’s cup of coffee) that had a sub-2.80 FIP, K/9 > 9.5 and BB/9 < 2.5: Kluber, Stras, Carrasco, Severino, Darvish, Verlander, Quintana, J. Gray, Morton and that man, Gohara. That’s some elite company albeit in a very small sample size. Additionally, he finished with a 13.4 SwStr% (swinging strikes per pitch), which was good for 17th overall during his time up.
Ultimately, Gohara is going to be a guy I target heavily in drafts. I think his overpowering fastball and more importantly, his fastball command are good enough to overcome the lack of a legitimate third pitch (CH). I see him as a guy with SP3 upside as soon as this season. Braves manager, Brian Snitker, recently named Gohara as one of the locks for the starting five in the rotation, which obviously alleviates any playing time concerns. Finally, what makes Gohara perhaps most appealing is his current price tag. Fantrax’s ADP as of today is 272. So, while other managers are overpaying for Luis Castillo and Luke Weaver (love both) in the top 125 for what I believe is a similar 2018 upside to Gohara, then why not sit back for another 100 picks and nab the prime years’ CC Sabathia clone. Gohara or go home (corny ftw). Ya, I just went there.