Vladimir Gutierrez signed with the Cincinnati Reds late in August of 2016. The Cuban defector didn’t pitch in 2016 as he signed as the season was ending. After spring training the Cincinnati Reds sent the 21-year-old right hander to Daytona to join the Tortugas rotation.

The first two starts of the year didn’t go as well as Vladimir Gutierrez would have hoped, probably. On April 8th he allowed three runs in 4.2 innings with two walks and six strikeouts. The next time out on April 14th he allowed six runs in 4.2 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. Through those two starts his ERA was 8.68 and opponents were hitting .375/.444/.525 against him. He had walked 8.9% of the batters he had faced and struck out 20% of them.

Over the next three starts things went about as well as one could hope for. On April 20th he allowed one run in 5.0 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. A week later he threw 5.0 shutout innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. On May 3rd he allowed two runs in 7.0 innings with no walks and nine strikeouts. 17.0 innings, 1.59 ERA, no walks, 23 strikeouts. That’s a 0% walk rate and a 35% strikeout rate.

Perhaps the most impressive stat of them all is that he had 36 swinging strikes in that span. 21% of his total strikes were of the swinging variety. His overall swinging strike rate (as calculated by swinging strikes/total pitches) was 14.4%. That rate would currently be the 5th best in Major League Baseball among starting pitchers, just to give it some context.

Entering last nights game he had a 4.10 ERA on the season with just four walks and with 32 strikeouts. He hadn’t yet allowed a home run. He continued his run on Tuesday against the Florida Fire Frogs. Vladimir Gutierrez allowed a run on three hits and a walk in 5.1 innings. He struck out 10 of the 20 batters that he faced in the game. The righty had another 16 swinging strikes in the game. We are now looking at this line for the Cuban pitcher over his last four starts: 22.1 innings pitched, 16 hits, one walk, 33 strikeouts, 1.61 ERA.

Vladimir Gutierrez Scouting Report at a glance

I’ve yet to see Vladimir Gutierrez in person, unfortunately. I have, however, been able to see some good video of him within the last week. I’ve also spoken with two scouts who have seen him this year. Both reports were similar. Fastball that works 92-95, topping out at 97 MPH. He can sink the ball, cut it and make it rise. Changes arm angles with it as well. Above-average to plus slider. Good change up with armside action.

Luke Mauro, the Daytona Tortugas announcer was on with Lance McAlister on ESPN 1530 on Monday and talked about the Tortugas. He spoke about Vladimir Gutierrez and the relationship with pitching coach Tom Brown. One of the most important things he said was that Brown talked him into throwing his change up more often, and in the first game he really relied on it, he threw 16 of 20 change ups for strikes. That’s getting things done.

He’s been in the strikezone a lot this season. In the first three starts he had a strike rate of just under 61%. In the next three starts it was 69%, and in the 4th and 5th of the year it was over 70%. Last night it was down to 60%, though he battled for just one walk despite that low rate.

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