Friday, October 26, 2012

Cubs Claim Carlos Gutierrez: Scouting Report

Carlos Gutierrez is a former first rounder draft pick by the Minnesota Twins but never made it out of AAA and is already 26. He was claimed by the Cubs after the Twins took him off the 40 man roster.

Once a top 10 prospect in the Twins system, he threw just 16 innings this year, all in AAA. He has always been a good ground-ball pitcher (with an okay strikeout rate) featuring a 88-93 mph fastball with a slider and an occasional change-up.

We have Pitch F/X of Gutierrez from 2 games, an Arizona Fall League game in 2010 and a spring training game in 2011.

He can run it up to 94-95 MPH (with a sinker) in relief appearances (the above velo from the FanGraphs' scouting report was back when he was a starter in the lower minor leagues). The question has always been whether or not he has enough off-speed to get hitters out. It is clear that he never developed 3 pitches effective enough to become a starter, but as a reliever, he would really only need one. So can his slider be effective at the big league level? Velocity wise, it is certainly of the hard variety, averaging just over 85 MPH. That is around the velocity of two very different pitchers in term of effectiveness, Johnny Cueto and Mike Pelfrey.

At least in his outing last year, he struggled with both the release point of the pitch, and the command of it:

Strikes have always been an issue for Gutierrez, as he has thrown strikes less than 60% of the time in the last couple of years, when league average in the International League is nearly 63%. He has decent to above average stuff, but his command and control is definitely below average. It is hard to expect it to get much better considering his age.

His strikeout rate to both lefties and righties is about the same, but his ground-ball rate and walk rate has actually been lower to lefties, making him a reverse split pitcher. Considering he doesn't throw his changeup very often at all, this is surprising. I am always skeptical of reverse split pitchers, not because they don't have value, but because they often aren't used properly. 
In 2011, he threw 62.1 above league average AAA reliever according to FIP and SIERA, but didn't make the big league club. Considering that the Twins' bullpen was downright awful, I am surprised he didn't get his chance then. Considering the Cubs gave most of their bullpen innings to Shawn Camp, who is now a free agent, Gutierrez looks to finally get a shot in the big leagues this year. I don't see how he will be very effective, but the Cubs don't have a lot of other options, so he will definitely get a chance.

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