MINNEAPOLIS—Carlos Gutierrez pitched out of the bullpen in his first two pro seasons out of Miami, both times to limit his innings. This time, the Twins moved the Double-A New Britain righthander back into a relief role in order to exploit his arm strength.
"His stuff seems to play better out of the pen," vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "He's got a hard sinker that handcuffs guys the first time through the order, and that's a tool he can develop."
Switching roles is nothing new for Gutierrez. The 27th overall pick in the 2008 draft, he served as closer for the Hurricanes following Tommy John surgery. The Twins worked Gutierrez, 23, as a starter in the first half of 2009 but at midseason shifted him to the Double-A bullpen, where he ran up a 7.03 ERA and a 20-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 24 relief innings.
He opened this season in New Britain's rotation once again, with the goal of improving his fastball control and developing an offspeed pitch. Radcliff said the Twins are happy with Gutierrez's progress and are making this transition with an eye toward his potential role in the big leagues. He went 3-6, 4.94 in 16 starts, striking out 53 and walking 36 over 89 innings.
"He's more comfortable in the later innings, but his time as a starter was well spent," Radcliff said.
Like many sinkerball pitchers, the 6-foot-3 Gutierrez has been susceptible to opposite-handed batters. In his case, lefty swingers enjoyed particular success, batting .315/.404/.440 with three homers through 200 at-bats.
"He's having trouble putting hitters away. He gets to two strikes, and lets too many hitters work a walk or just elevate his pitch count," Radcliff said. "That's correctable, which is the big thing. He's got tons of talent, so it's a matter of working on execution."
• First-round righthander Alex Wimmers retired the first six batters he faced in making his pro debut for high Class A Fort Myers on Aug. 21. He fanned four and allowed one walk and one hit. The two-time Big Ten Conference pitcher of the year will remain in Florida for instructional league play once the season concludes.
• New Britain outfielder Ben Revere recovered quickly from an Aug. 3 beaning and intended to return to action before the season concluded. The swelling in his face had subsided and he had resumed taking batting practice in late August.