The Cincinnati Reds made several big splashes in the 2016-2017 International Signing period. It was their last chance to simply outbid other teams for free agents and they didn’t hold back. One of those signings was for Cuban right handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez. He had last pitched in a game in April of 2015 while in Cuba as an 18-year-old.

After spring training the Reds assigned the now 21-year-old Vladimir Gutierrez to Daytona. In his pro debut he was solid, but unspectacular. He allowed three runs in 4.2 innings with two walks and six strikeouts. The next time out, though, things didn’t go nearly as well. Gutierrez was charged with six earned in 4.2 innings while allowing 12 baserunners. He turned things around rather quickly. In each of his two starts to finish out April he threw 5.0 innings, and he allowed just one run between the two starts, walked no one and struck out seven batters in each outing. He would finish the month with a 4.66 ERA in four starts and 19.1 innings. The righty walked four batters and had 23 strikeouts.

That success to end April carried into May. Over his first three starts of the month he would allow six runs in 17.1 innings (3.12 ERA). That came along with two walks and 26 strikeouts. That stretch came to an abrupt halt on the 21st against Tampa. The Yankees racked up 12 hits and nine runs in 3.1 innings against Vladimir Gutierrez. The next time he took the mound was at home against those same Yankees and he shut them down. Gutierrez would toss 6.1 shutout innings with just three hits, no walks and he’d strike out eight. Much like April, one terrible start put a big dent in his ERA. For the month it was 5.00 in 27.0 innings. He walked just four batters and he struck out an impressive total of 35.

June started out with a quality outing against Dunedin where Vladimir Gutierrez allowed one earned in 6.1 innings. Eight days later things went south as Palm Beach touched him up for six runs in 4.0 innings. The Cuban right hander made two more starts in July and they went well. He would allowed just three runs in 11.1 combined innings with two walks and fives strikeouts. By ERA it was the best month of the season, posting a 4.15 ERA. But his strikeout rate really dropped off, with just 16 in 21.2 innings to go with five walks.

July didn’t start out well. In the first two starts of the month Vladimir Gutierrez got roughed up. He allowed nine earned runs in 13.2 innings over those two outings. Things would rebound well, though. From the 13th through the 31st, the right hander allowed two earned over three starts and 16.0 innings (1.13 ERA). He would make his final start of the year on August 7th. That start, however, was a struggle. He would give up five earned in 5.1 innings. Over his final five weeks and six starts he posted a 4.11 ERA in 35.0 innings with just six walks and 20 strikeouts.

For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Vladimir Gutierrez Scouting Report

Fastball | The pitch works anywhere from 91-97 MPH. The velocity varies from start to start, and even within the game itself. Part of that is that he can and does change his arm angle to give different looks, which also changes the velocity.

Slider | At it’s best it’s an above-average offering the works in the low 80’s with two plane break. It can be inconsistent at times, though.

Curveball | Like the slider, it can be a bit inconsistent, but it will show as above-average at times working in the 78-82 MPH range.

Change Up | The pitch shows some armside run and sink to it in the low 80’s. It’s at least average but will show itself a little bit better at times.

Vladimir Gutierrez saw an inconsistent 2017 season with Daytona. He hadn’t pitched in games for two years after leaving Cuba, so it’s not unexpected that there were things that he had to overcome. Jumping straight to Advanced-A and finding some success was good to see. When he’s at his best he’s showing three above-average pitches and a fourth average one.

In 2017 Vladimir Gutierrez showed that he could downright dominate. But he also showed that he had consistency issues at times. That is an area that will need to improve as he continues to develop. Another area that will require keeping an eye on is how his stuff holds up over the long haul. His strikeout numbers dropped off significantly in the second half of the season, and he only threw 103.0 innings on the year. It was the first time he had ever started in his life, as he pitched in long relief as a teenager in Cuba. The stuff is there for a very good starting pitcher, but there are some real questions that he will need to answer moving forward, too.