D.O.B.: September 22, 1986
The Minnesota Twins had three of the first 31 draft picks in the 2008 draft, and with the 27th selection, they took right-handed pitcher Carlos Gutierrez from the University of Miami. He had an up and down career for the Hurricanes, beginning his career as a starter, before Tommy John surgery ended his sophomore season. When he returned, he became the Hurricanes' closer, which led to him being drafted so high. After a successful stint in Fort Myers in 2008, Gutierrez is poised to return to the starting rotation.
Signing for 1.29 million, Gutierrez moved into the bullpen in Fort Myers, where he would appear in 16 games. Posting a 2.10 earned run average, Gutierrez displayed great poise out of the bullpen, though he did struggle with his command. Still, he showed every naysayer why he was drafted so high, and the Twins have plans to fast track him.
Gutierrez displayed some of his skills in the World Baseball Classic, as he was a pitcher for Puerto Rico. The Twins plan to keep him in Fort Myers to open the 2009 season, moving him back into the starting rotation. However, this may be to just build up stamina, as a move to the bullpen could mean fast tracking.
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Fastball: Gutierrez may have the best fastball in the organization, mostly because it has such heavy sinking action. He can crank his four-seam fastball in the mid-90s, and his two-seamer is just as good. The two-seamer gets up to the low-90s, and is a great compliment to his four-seamer. His fastballs make him deadly on the mound, and if he can learn to control them better, he will be a lights out reliever in the future.
Other Pitches: The young right-hander has some of the better offspeed pitches in the system, as he mixes a plus slider and a developing change up. Some believe that his fastball is actually a sinker, but his mid-80s slider gets some serious publicity as well. His change up is becoming a pitch that is about average, but if he continues to throw it consistently, it could be a plus pitch for him.
Projection: This is an area that many people debate, and it will be interesting to see how Gutierrez does in a starters' role in 2009. He has the assortment of pitches to succeed as a starter, but he may be better suited as a relief pitcher. With his arsenal, he could be a top reliever on any team, but if he can start, then he could jump up to being one of the top starters in the organization. Either way, Gutierrez has Major League stuff, and only time will tell what capacity he makes it in.
ETA. 2011. Gutierrez could very well make it to the Major Leagues in 2010, but that would likely be as a reliever. If the Twins move him to the bullpen, he will be fast tracked, but they want to see how he makes out as a starter for now. He is likely ticketed for Fort Myers to open the season, but could be promoted and moved back into the bullpen by mid-season. If he does, I expect him to be in Minnesota by 2010. If not, expect 2011 as a safer bet.