Carlos Gutierrez Ready For The Big Time

The 2006 draft will be a different one for the Oakland A's organization. After years of having multiple first round choices, the A's have no picks until the 22nd slot in the second round. It is anyone's guess what player the A's will have their eyes on at that stage of the draft. However, the A's already have one new prospect on-board. On May 4th, the A's got a head-start on the draft by signing OF Carlos Gutierrez to a contract. Paul Rathert has a full scouting report on Gutierrez inside.


Carlos Gutierrez played for Division II Elizabeth City State of the CIAA and, as a fifth-year senior, was eligible to sign prior to the draft. This signing, much like Gutierrez himself, has flown largely under the radar. His name doesn't jump off the paper at you like the Justin Smoaks, Luke Hochevars or Andrew Millers of the world, but one look at his numbers and A's fans should get at least a little excited.

Gutierrez is already a very disciplined hitter, which is demonstrated by his 22:9 BB/K ratio during his final season at Elizabeth City State. Talk to ECSU Head Coach Terrance Whittle about Gutierrez for a minute or two and he will get you excited about Gutierrez's future. Talk to Carlos himself and you realize as a young man and as a player, he possesses all of the tools he needs to be successful.

There has been an inordinate amount of roster movement this season in the A's system and where outfielders are concerned, the news has been good and bad. In the vein of good news, Travis Buck and Jason Perry were both promoted to AA and AAA respectively after strong starts and an improved Richie Robnett might not be far behind. However, in the bad news category, top prospect Javier Herrera's season never began as he underwent Tommy John surgery after impressing many people in the A's organization with a strong spring and Sacramento fan favorite Matt Watson recently signed to play in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Gutierrez hopes to add himself to the list of good news for A's minor league outfielders by the end of the year. He will begin his first professional season at extended spring training in Arizona and will then travel to short-season A-Vancouver to play with the Canadians with a chance to move up to low-A Kane County or high-A Stockton as the season progresses.

Minor League Correspondent Paul Rathert caught up with ECSU Head Coach Terrance Whittle, the Oakland A's scout who signed Carlos, Neil Avent, as well as Carlos himself. Below are Avent and Whittle's takes on Gutierrez. To hear from Carlos himself, click here.

Carlos Gutierrez's 2006 stats with ECSU:





























The following is a Q & A with Oakland A's scout Neil Avent. Avent is in his first season with the A's and Carlos was his first signing.

A's Scout Avent on Gutierrez:

OaklandClubhouse: How often does it happen where a player signs with a team before the draft takes place?

Neil Avent: Well because he was a fifth year senior, he was able to be signed before the draft takes place. He finished his classes so early, it was to his benefit to sign and be able to work out in Arizona for almost a full month before the draft. Players that have exhausted their eligibility have the option to sign before the draft.

Gutierrez has a patient approach and a simple philosophy to hitting: "You only have to swing once an at-bat to get a hit," he said.

OC: What were some of the things you saw in Carlos that convinced you to sign him?

NA: I watched him play, the way he carried himself on the field. He basically was a man among boys in my estimation. He stood out. One of the things you learn early on in scouting is if a kid stands out, he stands out for a reason. He had great bat speed, great running ability, a great arm, so he really stood out.

Once he stands out at the level he's in, you look to see if he stands out at higher levels. I had the opportunity to talk to him and he was very polite, very bilingual. He's also a very good student and I think he's one of those guys that is well equipped for Major League Baseball and the rigors of it having played away from home. It was emotional for me, too, because he's the first player I've ever signed. In this organization, you pay kudos to everyone involved from the people that steer you to him, then to my wife for making me go see him play Thursday instead of Friday.

OC: How easy of a sell was he to the organization?

NA: Easy enough. One of the things we do have is the latitude that our scouting director [Eric Kubota] trusts us. They pay us for our opinion. I said that I thought he had a chance to be a solid player in this organization and they went and signed him.

OC: How are players from smaller colleges or lower divisions viewed by organizations in general, more specifically the A's?

NA: Some players never even go to college, guys get drafted straight out of high school and some of them do fine. Every player has their own individual level of success. Once the guys in Arizona see Carlos, they aren't going to question his physique. You aren't sending out a player who's undersized or anything like that. You are sending out a player that has had success. Some guys come from big schools with a big reputation and don't pan out and [the opposite] that do pan out. You can't really look into the heart of every player. Work ethic has a big part in it.

OC: What about Carlos should excite A's fans?

NA: He's got all the tools to be successful. You've got a kid here that went to a junior college then to a lower-level four-year school and has been a very successful player, but no one might ever have seen him. If that guy ends up playing in the McAfee Coliseum, there are going to be a lot of people that are excited, including me. It's tough for any player, but I think he's got potential to be a successful individual. Really, only Carlos knows if he has it in him to be a big leaguer. You can have the best coaches and everything else, but it's up to the individual. He's got all the tools to do that and be successful.

Head Coach Terrance Whittle's Scouting Report on Gutierrez

Terrance Whittle has coached Carlos at ECSU for three seasons. He has watched Gutierrez make a mockery of school, conference and division records during his tenure.

Whittle has a decorated baseball past of his own. He took over as Head Coach of Virginia State when he graduated in 1994 and won CIAA Championship in 1998. After that, he spent time in Germany as Head Coach and Director of Player Development with the Regensburg, Legionaere in Bundesliga (the highest level of baseball in Germany), winning the Bavarian State Championship in 1999.

He is a two-time CIAA coach of the year and also was as an associate scout with Florida Marlins in 1996-1998 and participated in the Atlanta Braves Scouting and Player Development Internship program in 1998. His baseball knowledge has enabled him to see and evaluate many different players in many different ways. The following is a scouting report from Coach Whittle on the player he has seen develop into only the second player from ECSU to sign a contract with a major league team.

Whittle's Scouting Report

"Carlos is a five-tool player. He has all the intangibles. He possesses a good knowledge of the game coupled with great athletic ability. He has a plus arm which will suit him well in right field. He can also play center. He is athletic and has a high baseball acumen and a baseball pedigree. He's a total package. He spends a lot of time in the cage working on his swing. Never missed an inning due to injury. Great work ethic. Solid plate discipline and pitch recognition."

"I worked with him on his every day approach to practice and training. He'll be playing more often at the professional level. He's got to mentally prepare for that. He works on the defensive side of ball as well and will work on his weaknesses."

"[Gutierrez] dissects the game and doesn't give away any at-bats. On the field, his demeanor and approach resembles Ken Griffey Jr. in the sense that the game comes so easy to him. This is possibly one reason he has largely gone unnoticed. He's been looked at by a few clubs and was even offered a contract, but it's possible some people thought he was a loafer when really it's just that the game has been so easy for him to this point. Carlos will have an easy transition to professional baseball because the Elizabeth City program setup to help prepare student-athletes for this type of situation."

Things he'll need to improve on?

From an every day playing point of view, he'll play with the best of them. One thing he'll have to overcome will be the fact that he's been at or near the top of the talent level everywhere he's gone. At the top levels, everyone is extremely talented. Once he meets and over comes that, he will be a great player.

What does Whittle have to say to critics that will say he didn't face tough competition playing in Division II?

He has five tools and they are all plus-tools and he will make adjustments and remain consistent.

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