Left-handed pitching prospect Luiz Gohara may no longer be competing for a spot in the Braves’ Opening Day rotation, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The southpaw was scheduled to pitch his first Grapefruit League start on Sunday, but will be forced to sit out after spraining his left ankle during pitchers’ drills on Friday afternoon. It’s still unclear how severely the injury will impact his upcoming season with the club, though David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution adds that the team is expected to reevaluate his progress in two weeks.
This is the second injury Gohara has suffered this spring after working his way back from a groin strain several weeks ago. The 21-year-old was poised to enter his sophomore season with the club following his major league debut last year, when he pitched to a 1-3 record in five starts with a 4.91 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 9.5 SO/9 over 29 1/3 innings. He was ranked no. 4 in the Braves’ system by MLB Pipeline last month and currently grades as the team’s top left-handed prospect.
Without Gohara, Bowman notes, the competition for the final two spots in the Braves’ starting rotation has opened back up. Southpaw Sean Newcomb is the presumed favorite for the fourth slot, but the fifth could be claimed by any number of candidates, including veteran lefty Scott Kazmir, no. 7 prospect Max Fried, or right-handers Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair or Lucas Sims.