Vladimir Gutierrez will be joining the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League this year. It’s been a tough year for the Cuban right-handed pitcher. He was invited to spring training with the Cincinnati Reds as a non-roster player after pitching in Triple-A during the 2019 season. Before spring training came to an abrupt halt in mid-March he tested positive for stanozolol. We didn’t find that out, though, until June 28th, when he was suspended by Major League Baseball for 80 games for the positive test. It was that reason that likely kept him from joining the alternate site team in Mason once it began, where had he been eligible to participate, he likely would have provided pitching depth.
This will be the second consecutive season for Vladimir Gutierrez to pitch in the Dominican Winter League, with both coming for Licey. Last winter saw Gutierrez make seven starts for the Tigres. While he went 1-4, that record wasn’t really on his performance as much as it appeared to be on his offense. The right-handed starter posted a 3.21 ERA in his 28.0 innings while allowing 22 hits, two homers, walking 12, and striking out 20.
In 2019 Vladimir Gutierrez had pitched a full season in Triple-A, making 27 starts and throwing 137.0 innings. He struggled during the season before putting together a strong run in August over his final five starts to end the season (28.2 innings, 10 walks, 39 strikeouts, 2.83 ERA).
With a full season under his belt, he was limited in what he was going to do in the Dominican Winter League from a workload standpoint. This year, without games, and without him getting time at the alternate site – it’s possible that he may be given some more wiggle room this winter with Licey to throw innings and pitch deeper into the season than he saw last year.
Vladimir Gutierrez is currently out in Goodyear and getting innings in during instructional league. The recently turned 25-year-old is among the oldest players in instructional league right now for the Reds – only pitchers Matt Pidich and recently acquired Riley O’Brien are older. He’s made four appearances this year in instructional league so far, building up his workload. The organization hasn’t determined yet what the exact plan will be once he heads to the winter league as they are wanting to see how instructional league goes and then get everyone together to set forth a precise plan that will help prepare him for 2021.