Top 10 Twins prospects #9: Carlos Gutierrez
Carlos Rafael Gutierrez (born September 22, 1986) is a Puerto Rican-American minor league pitcher for the Minnesota Twins organization. Standing 6’3″ and weighing 205 lbs, the right-hander was selected by the Twins in the first round (27th overall) of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft. He was the Twins’ second first round pick that year, a pick that was received from the Angels when Torii Hunter signed with them.
He was a starter at the University of Miami as a freshman and then underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2007. He came back as the team’s closer and guided the Hurricanes to the 2008 College World Series.
He spent the first half of the 2009 season in high A ball where he went 2-3 with a 1.32 ERA in 10 starts (one relief appearance) and earned a Florida State League All star selection. He did not participate due to his promotion to AA. He appeared in 32 games with New Britain with 122 innings pitched and went 5-8 with a 4.57 ERA before he was promoted to AAA in 2010. He went 5-8 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP in 126 innings pitched.
Gutierrez is a rarity in the Twins farm system. He has a fastball that tops out at 97 MPH and is said to get excellent sinking action when his fastball is thrown in the mid 90s. With that sinking action, he is also a ground ball machine. During his time in the minors, he has been working on a change-up to compliment his great fastball and above average slider.
He will no doubt be a reliever in the major leagues. He has spent a lot of time starting in the minor leagues as most reliever do to work on his pitches. Gutierrez will most likely start out in the bullpen at AAA in 2011. He very well could be expected to come up to the big leagues and help the Twins out this season. With his incredible stuff, all he needs to do his work on his mound presence and he could be an extremely effective reliever.
He is one reason I feel the Twins did not mind letting relievers walk this season as he is so close to being major league ready. If he comes up and impresses this year, with Joe Nathan’s contract expiring at the end of the season….there is a very high chance that Gutierrez could be in the Twins long-term plans as the team’s next closer.