The Cincinnati Reds made several big splashes in the 2016-2017 International Signing period. It was their last chance to simply outbid other teams for free agents and they didn’t hold back. One of those signings was for Cuban right handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez. He had last pitched in a game in April of 2015 while in Cuba as an 18-year-old.

After spring training the Reds assigned the now 21-year-old Vladimir Gutierrez to Daytona. In his pro debut he was solid, but unspectacular. He allowed three runs in 4.2 innings with two walks and six strikeouts. The next time out, though, things didn’t go nearly as well. Gutierrez was charged with six earned in 4.2 innings while allowing 12 baserunners. He turned things around rather quickly. In each of his two starts to finish out April he threw 5.0 innings, and he allowed just one run between the two starts, walked no one and struck out seven batters in each outing. He would finish the month with a 4.66 ERA in four starts and 19.1 innings. The righty walked four batters and had 23 strikeouts.

That success to end April carried into May. Over his first three starts of the month he would allow six runs in 17.1 innings (3.12 ERA). That came along with two walks and 26 strikeouts. That stretch came to an abrupt halt on the 21st against Tampa. The Yankees racked up 12 hits and nine runs in 3.1 innings against Vladimir Gutierrez. The next time he took the mound was at home against those same Yankees and he shut them down. Gutierrez would toss 6.1 shutout innings with just three hits, no walks and he’d strike out eight. Much like April, one terrible start put a big dent in his ERA. For the month it was 5.00 in 27.0 innings. He walked just four batters and he struck out an impressive total of 35.

June started out with a quality outing against Dunedin where Vladimir Gutierrez allowed one earned in 6.1 innings. Eight days later things went south as Palm Beach touched him up for six runs in 4.0 innings. The Cuban right hander made two more starts in July and they went well. He would allowed just three runs in 11.1 combined innings with two walks and fives strikeouts. By ERA it was the best month of the season, posting a 4.15 ERA. But his strikeout rate really dropped off, with just 16 in 21.2 innings to go with five walks.

July didn’t start out well. In the first two starts of the month Vladimir Gutierrez got roughed up. He allowed nine earned runs in 13.2 innings over those two outings. Things would rebound well, though. From the 13th through the 31st, the right hander allowed two earned over three starts and 16.0 innings (1.13 ERA). He would make his final start of the year on August 7th. That start, however, was a struggle. He would give up five earned in 5.1 innings. Over his final five weeks and six starts he posted a 4.11 ERA in 35.0 innings with just six walks and 20 strikeouts.

For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Vladimir Gutierrez Scouting Report

Fastball | The pitch works anywhere from 91-97 MPH. The velocity varies from start to start, and even within the game itself. Part of that is that he can and does change his arm angle to give different looks, which also changes the velocity.

Slider | At it’s best it’s an above-average offering the works in the low 80’s with two plane break. It can be inconsistent at times, though.

Curveball | Like the slider, it can be a bit inconsistent, but it will show as above-average at times working in the 78-82 MPH range.

Change Up | The pitch shows some armside run and sink to it in the low 80’s. It’s at least average but will show itself a little bit better at times.

Vladimir Gutierrez saw an inconsistent 2017 season with Daytona. He hadn’t pitched in games for two years after leaving Cuba, so it’s not unexpected that there were things that he had to overcome. Jumping straight to Advanced-A and finding some success was good to see. When he’s at his best he’s showing three above-average pitches and a fourth average one.

In 2017 Vladimir Gutierrez showed that he could downright dominate. But he also showed that he had consistency issues at times. That is an area that will need to improve as he continues to develop. Another area that will require keeping an eye on is how his stuff holds up over the long haul. His strikeout numbers dropped off significantly in the second half of the season, and he only threw 103.0 innings on the year. It was the first time he had ever started in his life, as he pitched in long relief as a teenager in Cuba. The stuff is there for a very good starting pitcher, but there are some real questions that he will need to answer moving forward, too.

14 Responses

  1. The Duke

    Given that he had never been a starting pitcher and he hadn’t pitched in a live game in over 2 years, him falling off after a 60-70 IP isn’t that surprising. What he did do was pitch 100+ IP without a significant injury, and he flashed 4 average or above pitches with good control.

    Given another offseason of strength & conditioning and that the Reds hopefully have him on a good nutritional program, I expect a little more consistency in 2018 and he can hopefully get his inning count up around 140 IP, which is essentially a full minor league season. I would think he showed enough to start 2018 in AA and I think the raw stuff is good enough to get hitters out at that level, as long as he matures as a pitcher as well.

    I’m excited about Gutierrez as a prospect. There is a lot to like there with multiple good pitches, good control that may lead to command, and he remained relatively healthy after such a long layoff while pitching a significant amount more pitches/innings than he had ever thrown before. I think he has #2 starter upside, and a solid shot of being at least a mid rotation pitcher..

  2. sultanofswaff

    Just staying healthy and putting up 100+ IP qualifies Vlad’s season as a success. I see a fair amount of Raisel Iglesias in his motion. I wonder if they train together.

    Seems like the curveball is his main out pitch. Not a big fan of starting pitchers with that profile, so hopefully the changeup and slider improve. Seems like a mid-rotation starter type ceiling to me. That said, I wouldn’t hesistate to package him in a trade that would improve the big club right now. We have enough rotation pieces and Santillan/Greene/Moss/Heatherly constitute a solid next wave of pitching.

    • The Duke

      I wouldn’t limit his ceiling like that, but that said ceiling is one thing and projection is another. I agree it is more likely he profiles as a mid rotation guy than a #2, but with 4 pitches he can throw for strikes that have all flashed above average at times combined with already good control and you can dream a bit more than the mid rotation on that. Still a lot to prove, but I was very encouraged by his first year in the system after not playing competitive baseball for over 2 years. My #8 Reds prospect.

  3. Arnold Ziffle

    Gutierrez has a long way to go. He should start out again in Daytona, a supposed “pitcher-friendly” league. He tailed off so much that he needs to get his ship righted at A+ before going to AA. Give him about 8 starts, maybe 10, at Daytona and if he looks good promote him to Pensacola then. Eight starts will get him close to a Memorial Day promotion. Those league’s all-star games are usually between June 15 and June 20. That will get him up before a half season is over. If last season was his first in 3 seasons, no need to rush it. Let him get established again at A+, get his feet squarely under him, and give him a confidence boost fo a second half playoff run again in Pensacola.
    I saw on MLBTR that the competitive balance picks were set. Reds go to Group B this year for a pick after the 2nd round, not after the first round. Here is how it shakes out. Those pick umbers are still a bit of an estimate though as there are a few things yet to be established.
    Round A
    31. Pirates
    32. Rays (Compensation for Rasmussen)
    33. Orioles
    34. Padres
    35. D-backs
    36. Royals
    37. Indians
    38. Rockies
    39. Cardinals

    Round B
    70. Marlins
    71. Athletics
    72. Rays
    73. Reds
    74. Brewers
    75. Twins
    Here is a link to the article, as the rules are a bit different this year.
    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/11/2018-competitive-balance-draft-pick-order.html

    • Cguy

      I realize this question has no meaning now, but if the Reds had extended a QO for Cozart & just like the other 9 players Zack had turned it down; where would the Reds compensation pick be? Cguy Let’s assume he signs elsewhere for 3 years at $40M.

      • Arnold Ziffle

        I believe if Cozart signs somewhere else for $50M or more, the Reds would get a pick before Comp. Round A. I doubt that happens though. But that is one of the things that has to be established on the draft order, the compensation picks for those that sign above $50M will go before Comp. Round A.

    • Doug Gray

      I’d argue he tailed off because of all of the time off in 2015 and 2016, not because of some lack of skill he needs to learn. Send him to Double-A where he belongs.

      • Arnold Ziffle

        I agree about the reason for tailing off. But I would still let him get some starts in at A+ before going to AA. Let him start off on the right footing.

      • Doug Gray

        You send guys to the level you think they are prepared for. If you think he fell off for something that isn’t related to his skill, then there is zero reason to send him back to Daytona.

  4. HavaKlu

    Deck McGuire signed minor league contract with Blue Jays. Must have figured his chance to start was better there than with Reds’ abundance—-that is if the Reds were interested.

    • wes

      I can’t believe no one was interested in this guy? Former top 10 pick in the general area of prime of his career while putting together a very good season and no one wants to give him a chance.

      • Doug Gray

        With all due respect, he’s going to be a 29-year-old with 13.2 MLB innings under his belt with zero success in Triple-A for his entire career. I wouldn’t expect people to be beating down his door with MLB offers.

        Teams are skeptical, and for good reason. They are willing to give him a chance. They aren’t willing to guarantee him a 40-man spot.