The Cincinnati Reds had a change in starting pitcher on Tuesday. Sonny Gray was originally listed as the probably starter when the day began, but when the lineup came out it was Vladimir Gutierrez taking the mound to begin the day. Gray was moved to a bullpen side session as he wanted to work on some things. If we simply didn’t tell you that Gutierrez was starting instead of Gray and showed you the line that he put up you would not know the difference. Gutierrez picked up four strikeouts in 2.0 shutout innings where he didn’t allow a hit and walked one batter.

“He looks really good,” said manager David Bell. “His delivery, his presence on the mound, everything looks really smooth and confident. He’s just making pitches, commanding all of his pitches. Yeah, he looks great. It’s been fun to watch him develop the last couple of years. He keeps getting better.”

It was the third outing for Vladimir Gutierrez on the spring and it was a continuation of what he had been doing previously. The right-handed pitcher from Cuba has thrown 4.0 innings while giving up just two hits, no earned runs, he’s walked one batter, and he’s now struck out six of the 16 batters he’s faced.

It’s been a strong spring so far for the right-hander who got his only action on the field last year in the first spring training and then in the Dominican Winter League with Licey  (3.71 ERA in five starts) after serving 60 games of an 80-game suspension after testing positive for stanozolol last spring training. Despite not getting much time on the mound in games, Bell has noticed the improvements.

“He really has impressed us in years past, for sure,” said Bell. “He just looks more mature, more confident. I think he’s commanding all of his pitches better. I really think there’s something about his delivery that looks smoother. It’s all working together for him. His body is all working really nicely together and I think that’s helping him command his pitches. He has everything that it takes, really. He has the velocity, he has the offspeed pitches, and when he’s commanding all of them we’re seeing what he can be. He’s definitely close. We’ve said that in the past, too, but I think he’s just taken it to the next level. It’s just a part of the development and maturity for a young pitcher.”

Vladimir Gutierrez signed the same year as the Reds picked up Jose Garcia and Alfredo Rodriguez as a part of their nearly $30,000,000 (signing bonuses plus penalties for going over their “allowed” amount) – with almost all of the money that year going to those three players and penalties. Gutierrez was considered the most advanced of the three players, and he moved one level per year beginning with his debut in 2017 at then Advanced-A Daytona (now the Low-A affiliate of the Reds) before moving up to Double-A Pensacola in 2018, and then Triple-A Louisville in 2019.

His last time on the mound during a season was in 2019 with Louisville, and things didn’t go well. The juiced baseball that was around in the Major Leagues that season was also the same one used in Triple-A and just like the Majors, teams were crushing home run records left and right. Gutierrez wasn’t immune to the damage from opposing hitters as he posted an ERA of 6.04 in 137.0 innings with 26 home runs allowed. Down the stretch he put things together, posting a 2.83 ERA in his last five starts while striking out 39 batters in 28.2 innings. Perhaps that was a sign of things that would come, but that due to the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season and his suspension, we never got an opportunity to see.

19 Responses

  1. MuddyCleats

    Electric! Kid showed great mound presence and a very nice arsenal of pitches w/ good command of all of them. Really awesome seeing the Reds finally drafting and developing some SP on their own! Kudos to the org for putting a great SP staff together last yr and working to improve inhouse operations w/ the Driveline metric based approach!! Clearly it is paying off!!! Seems obvious to me that w/ the development of Green, Ludolo, Guterierrez, India, Stephenson and others, the Reds R clearly in a position to start trading / cut some over priced veterans and reload for the future. Yes wait and see where things R near deadline, but I could see moving Sony and others at deadline for a guy like Story. But, Reds have to be willing to sign Story to long term deal.

    • Doc

      They don’t need Story long term, nor short term for that matter. Garcia will be ready. Nobody is projecting him being more than a year away.

      • MuddyCleats

        Reds need players who CAN hit – something Garcia is struggling w/ and has struggled with. Not saying he wont, but. Gray is signed thru 2023 and Votto comes off the books in 2024. Castillo is probably past his prime at that point? So why waste yrs waiting for players to develop when the SP is almost ready ? Isn’t that what they’re having problems w/ now & last yr in playoffs? Development of Mahle and Antone, Green, Lodolo & Gutierrez ect. gives ammo to Reds to grab some young hitters by moving Castillanos, Mouse and maybe Suarez so the young hitters R ready when the SPs are. Story may be too expensive and probably edging past his prime at that point? This season could develop into something really nice so Reds have to wait and see, but I can see a scenario where guys like Gray and Garcia could be packaged for a young stud SS Reds could build their team around for the future w/ these young SPs ??

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Bell is correct for once. Vlad’s delivery is smoother, more mature. He showed nice command of his breaking pitches. That maturity showed when he battled back in some counts and froze a couple batters for strike 3 rather than issuing a walk.

    Sorry, but for all the complaining around here about losing Josiah Gray, the mechanics, velocity, and command from Vlad and Tony Santillan was superior. Not that I don’t think Gray won’t be a decent pitcher, but I’m not losing any sleep about the trade.

    Overall, you have to feel good about the quality and depth of the pitching. When the Cubs and Cardinals are struggling to name 5 starters, more and more my gut is telling me the Brewers and Reds will be the teams playing meaningful baseball in September.

  3. Hotto4Votto

    FWIW, the home plate umpire was pretty generous with the strike zone in the first inning. But, I guess it’s ST for them too. Glad to see Vlad out there looking strong and confident.

    • Frankie Tomatoes

      I felt he was squeezed at least twice in the first inning. I guess without the pitch tracking we’re all just guessing at what is actually going on.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I just know the 3rd strike call to Taylor (?) was well below the knees. But yeah it’s hard to know without a slowed down replay or the pitch tracking. Seemed like the ump was really calling the low strike at first, wasn’t as noticeable as the game went on.

  4. BK

    How many games does he have remaining on his suspension? Aside from the pandemic, he should be complete/very near complete at this point.

    • MBS

      Oops 20 Games, not days. LoL I messed that one up completely

  5. MK

    It says 20 in the 4th paragraph of the story.

    Doug, since he is now on 40-man does he get service time for those 20 suspension days?

  6. BK

    Thanks, I was just trying to ensure I understood he had another 20 games remaining.

    I’m not arguing the appropriateness of the suspension. However, 80 days was intended to be half a season in the CBA which he has now missed. Seems unfair to continue his suspension into this year just because last season was shortened due to COVID.

    • Doug Gray

      Just want to point out that the answer I provided to MK was about service time, not suspension time.

      I have no idea how MLB will handle his remaining 20 games he owes them for a suspension. He was set to still owe 20 games this year. But with the minor league season being delayed again, I do not know if that will be altered or changed. My guess is that MLB hasn’t yet decided, but I will ask about it the next time I speak to someone in the org who would know.

  7. Roger Garrett

    Muddy Cleats
    You are correct about the pitching but nobody wanted Castellanos or Moose at the money the Reds gave them and don’t now for sure.Teams don’t know if Eugenio will bounce back even with his friendly contract.So it only leaves guys like Sonny as you said that could be traded.To improve offensively their Reds must trade some of their pitching to acquire young position talent and be willing to play them now along with their other prospects that they know little about.They may have to eat some of Moose and Joey’s contracts as well but they won’t and thats the sad part.It does take two parties to trade but if we start slow and get down 10 or more games in the standings we may see just what you are talking about.The Reds need to get younger and quickly IMO.

  8. RedsGettingBetter

    What is the velo of Gutieerez´s fastball? Low 90s ?? And… Is the pitches movement above average?

  9. eddiek957

    Shortstop concerns me Pitching seems better than most years. I think fans expected a fast start last year but towards the end of the season the reds were playing winning baseball. Just hope we’re not as weak offensively as we have been