What’s happening, Rays Nation? It’s nice to meet…er…allow you to know of my existence. My name is Fletcher Keel, and I am a new writer here for Rays Colored Glasses. I am a junior at Western Kentucky University, which is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, also home to the Rays low-A affiliate Bowling Green Hot Rods. When I approached Robbie about writing, he said it’d be great, because few (if any) of the guys for RCG have ever seen a Hot Rods game, and the first hand knowledge of the team would help the site expand its already dedicated and strong coverage. So, without further adieu, let’s get to my first post as a Rays Colored Glasses writer.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you a look at some of the names that are flying around out there for trade targets, specifically the ones relevant to the Bowling Green Hot Rods–the players who spent last year in Short Season ball. We have heard plenty about players like Taijuan Walker and Mike Zunino, but the players farther down in the minor leagues who have just as much potential and could also be major components of a Price trade. We’ll look today at Mariners prospects Luiz Gohara and Edwin Diaz.
Luiz Gohara, LHP – Gohara is currently the number 10 prospect in the Mariners system according to MLB.com, and contains a fastball, a slider, and a changeup in his arsenal. 2013 marked Gohara’s first season in minor league ball, where he pitched 21.2 innings in 6 starts, finishing the year with a 4.15 ERA and a 27-9 strike to walk ratio. Baseball Prospectus says that while Gohara has an impressive arm and lists multiple breaking ball looks and changeup action as positives, the biggest weakness they see is his injury risk with how big of a boy he is and how little experience he’s had so far. BP also says that, if all goes well, he could become a number two starter. Fangraphs agrees that he has a high risk for injury, but writer Jason Churchill sees amazing upside with him, and expects Gohara to be ready for full-season ball come spring. He has a lot of work, but it would be fun to watch the 17 year old kid grow in Bowling Green.
Edwin Diaz, RHP – Diaz could be another prospect to come the Rays way. While ranked lower than Gohara in the Top 20 rankings, the 14th ranked Diaz had an outstanding year, going 5-2 and finishing 2013 with an ERA of 1.43. Diaz racked up 79 strikeouts to only 18 walks in 69 innings of work, although he did allow 5 longballs (0.7 HR/9). Diaz also has a fastball and a changeup, but his third pitch is his curveball. Baseball Prospectus notes his loose, easy arm action and lists his fastball and curveball as strengths while unlike Gohara, he needs work on his changeup. Another weakness is similar to Gohara, but on the other end of the spectrum–while Gohara is a big boy, Diaz is slender, and his body needs to add some size and strength. BP sees Diaz as a second or third starter, but if he develops that changeup, that can definitely go up. Fangraphs feels the same way, and noted that while it’s still a work in progress, 2013 saw tremendous growth in his breaking pitches.
So, where do these guys fit in the Rays organization? Most likely, like our title suggests, they would land in Bowling Green to be Hot Rods, which like the entire Rays organization, is known for their pitching. Bowling Green had one of the best statistical pitching staffs in all of baseball a season a go. If Gohara and Diaz do land in BG, they’ll continue the trend of talented young pitching, coming off a season where the staff included Taylor Guerrieri (the Rays number one prospect, mind you), Jeff Ames, and Blake Snell, and, at one point, held the 2nd best ERA in all of affiliated baseball (behind the Ft. Myers Miracle). Under the direction of Kyle Snyder, don’t be shocked to see great things from Gohara and Diaz if they do join the organization. While it’ll be sad to see Price go, the upside for what the return might be is huge–and worth the…excuse me…Price.