C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer has up a very good article on Vladimir Gutierrez. The Cincinnati Reds signed Gutierrez out of Cuba last year and he will be making his professional debut in 2017 at the minor league level. The 21-year-old has been spending plenty of time with another Cuban pitcher, Raisel Iglesias.

Raisel Iglesias has spent the last two seasons in the big leagues with the Reds after coming over from Cuba. When he joined the organization he was one of three Cubans in the big leagues, joining Aroldis Chapman and Brayan Pena. Iglesias now sees it as his job to pass along things to the new crop of young Cuban players, including shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, in the organization like those before him helped with as he arrived.

Reds manager Bryan Price liked what he saw from Vladimir Gutierrez in his first bullpen session over the weekend.

(He’s shown) a repeatable delivery and a delivery that provides him with strikes. He has feel for his pitches,” Price said. “It’s not just a young, wild arm. Most of us at his age were young, hard, wild throwers. He’s a young, polished, hard-thrower.

It’s been quite a long time since Gutierrez last pitched in a truly competitive environment. He last pitched in early 2015 for Team Cuba leading up to the Caribbean Series. He defected while in Puerto Rico for the tournament. During the 2014 season in Cuba as an 18-year-old, the right hander posted a 2.45 ERA in 51.1 innings. His walk rate was slightly better than league average (9.1% to 10.3%), but his strikeout rate was nearly double the league average (23.4% to 12.2%). His strikeout rate was the 2nd highest in the league for anyone with at least 35.0 innings pitched.

Vladimir Gutierrez may be the biggest wild card in the entire Cincinnati farm system. There’s still a ton of unknown given that he hasn’t played in two years. His upside is seemingly teasing us at this point as we wait to see what he can do against other professionals. I’m expecting that both he and Alfredo Rodriguez will begin their seasons with the Daytona Tortugas. April can’t get here soon enough.

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