As we count down the days to 2018’s opening day, we take a look at the greatest Braves to wear each jersey number that’s been worn.
Ok, first off, I want to acknowledge that the best Brave to wear #64 is in fact 2017 rookie Luiz Gohara. That is objectively the correct answer, but Gohara’s career is just beginning, and he’ll probably become best known in another number. If you tasked a robot with finding these answers, the robot would quickly tell you Gohara. I’m not a robot.
A 7th round pick out of Iowa in 1998, Sobkowiak quickly dominated the low minors and was named by Baseball America as the #4 prospect in the Atlanta system prior to the 2000 season. In 2000, he struggled in his first 4 AA starts before succumbing to Tommy John surgery, and BA dropped him to the organization’s #10 prospect in the next offseason. 2001’s return to AA proved as much of a struggle, but on October 7, the Braves called Sobkowiak up for game #162 against the Marlins.
Trailing the Marlins 3-2 entering the top of the 9th, manager Bobby Cox called on the young Sobkowiak to finish out the regular season . He got Derrek Lee out to start his MLB career, but then gave up a double to Cliff Floyd. After inducing a ground out to Eric Owens, Mike Lowell singled Floyd home. Sobkowiak then got Kevin Millar to ground out to end the inning. It was ultimately the only inning of his MLB career.
Returning to the minors in 2002, Sobkowiak had slightly more success in the upper levels. He spent 2003 in high-A ball in the Cincinnati system, his final year in the minors. He gave it a try in the independent leagues, first in the Frontier League with the Rockford Riverhawks, and later in the Atlantic League with the Lancaster Barnstormers. After allowing a 7.20 ERA at age 29 in the Atlantic League, Sobkowiak retired after 2007. Once a top prospect, he just couldn’t seem to get over the elbow injury that ultimately derailed his career. It’s unfortunate, but Sobkowiak did get that one inning under the big lights, an inning most minor leaguers would kill for.
Is he the best ever to wear #64?
Of course not. If he wasn’t a Moonlight Graham guy, he wouldn’t have even been the Atlanta pick. For all of baseball history, there’s not a clear-cut choice, but I think I’ll go with A.J. Griffin, who has worn #64 exclusively in his 4 MLB seasons. Those first two seasons in Oakland were pretty good, even.