Top 15 Prospects: #9
Who: Carlos Gutierrez
How Acquired: 2008 draft, 1st round (28th overall)
Highest Level In 2009: AA
When the Twins drafted Carlos Gutierrez in 2008, he was a closer for the University of Miami. Needless to say, I was unhappy that the Twins drafted a college reliever in the first round, but since they had picked Aaron Hicks earlier and had a pick just two after him, I could understand.
Fortunately, the Twins decided to turn Gutierrez into a starter. The results have been, for the most part, overwhelmingly positive. Although he struggled in AA last year (5.02 FIP, 4.13 BB/9) he was great in A+ ball with Fort Meyers, and he was great the year before for the Miracle as well.
Gutierrez got ground balls at a 62.7% clip in 2009, and his sinker is one of the heaviest in all of professional baseball. His secondary pitches aren’t great yet, but his slider does feature some good movement, so hopefully that can develop into a weapon for him, and hopefully he can find a change of pace pitch. Otherwise his future may lie in the bullpen, where he will still be effective as a guy who can come in and induce a double play, but the much higher value is obviously in the rotation. If his sinker can miss some bats, he will be an elite pitching prospect and a #2 type guy in a rotation, but if not he will start to give up more and more home runs, and his prospect status will be in doubt.