ATLANTA -- Alex Wood, Eric Stults and Manny Banuelos were the only left-handed pitchers to make a start for the Braves during a two-season span that began in 2015. Wood accounted for 20 of those 34 starts before being traded to the Dodgers as part of the massive rebuild that
ATLANTA -- Alex Wood, Eric Stults and Manny Banuelos were the only left-handed pitchers to make a start for the Braves during a two-season span that began in 2015. Wood accounted for 20 of those 34 starts before being traded to the Dodgers as part of the massive rebuild that has seemingly made it unlikely for Atlanta to experience a similar southpaw shortage over the next few years.
Three of the young starting pitchers -- Luiz Gohara, Kolby Allard and Max Fried -- acquired during this rebuild rank among baseball's top 10 left-handed prospects, per the rankings MLB Pipeline released Wednesday.
:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::
Gohara ranks fourth, sitting behind the Padres' Mackenzie Gore, who was the third overall pick in last summer's MLB Draft, the Athletics' A.J. Puk, who was taken with the sixth pick in the 2016 Draft, and the Yankees' Justus Sheffield, who was taken by the Indians in the first round of the 2014 Draft and later traded to New York in exchange for Andrew Miller.
Sean Newcomb ranked among the game's top left-handed prospects at this time last year, but he no longer qualified for this list after making 19 starts for Atlanta last season. The Braves actually had a surplus of lefty starters by the end of last season, as Gohara and Fried were both given a chance to make a handful of starts in September.
One of the next newcomers to Atlanta's rotation could be Allard, the rising 20-year-old southpaw who ranks seventh on this updated list of the game's top left-handed pitching prospects. Fried ranks 10th.
As Gohara prepares to go to Spring Training with a strong possibility of opening the season in Atlanta's rotation, it remains impressive how far he has come since beginning last year with Class A Advanced Florida. The big lefty continued to draw comparisons to Carsten Sabathia as he constructed a 2.62 ERA and registered 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings over the 26 appearances (25 starts) he combined to make for Florida, Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.
Gohara completed at least six innings in four of the five starts he made after getting his first call to the Majors in September. The 21-year-old hurler surrendered just one earned run in two of those outings and opened some eyes as his fastball averaged 96.5 mph -- the fifth-highest velocity among all MLB pitchers who threw at least 200 fastballs last year.
Allard will likely open this season with Triple-A Gwinnett, but there is a chance he could reach the Majors at some point this summer. His stock rose last year as he skipped the Class A Advanced level and then proceeded to produce a 3.18 ERA over 27 starts for Mississippi. He pitched most of the season at 19 years old and did not face a single batter who was younger than him.
Fried hasn't necessarily produced eye-popping statistics since returning from Tommy John surgery during the 2016 season. The 23-year-old lefty posted a 5.54 ERA over 21 combined starts for Mississippi and Gwinnett last year. But after making four relief appearances for Atlanta in August, he displayed the potential of his curveball during four late-season starts. He limited the Cubs to one run over five innings at Wrigley Field on Sept. 3 to earn the win in what was his first start.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.