Though 2017 wasn’t the healthiest of seasons for 23-year-old third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez, he at least helped his cause in vying for a spot on the 40-man roster.
Gutierrez returned from a nearly three-week absence in the Arizona Fall League to go 4-for-7 in his next two games with a walk, a triple, three runs and two RBIs. To farm director Mark Scialabba, it was a familiar performance.
“We’ll try to get him as many at-bats and as many reps in the field as possible,” Scialabba said. “We like the skill set. He’s someone with great hands and a plus arm, and he has great hands on the offensive side, too.”
In the AFL, Gutierrez missed time because his throwing hand was spiked in his third game there. During the regular season, he was limited to 58 games at high Class A Potomac because of a sprained ankle. He hit .288/.347/.414 with two home runs when healthy.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Gutierrez has primarily played third base and shortstop in the minors, but he’ll spend time at first base with Mesa, whose roster includes former Nationals prospect Sheldon Neuse as one of its third basemen. Neuse was part of the deal that netted major league relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, and the Nationals believe they have another developing third baseman in Gutierrez.
“He’s very projectable,” Scialabba said. “We see him as an everyday third baseman. He has very soft hands and a quick first step—and with his arm strength, the ball carries on a line. He’s very instinctual at third.”
Gutierrez signed out of the Dominican Republic in April 2013. He made minor league all-star game appearances at short-season Auburn, low Class A Hagerstown (where he was also a postseason all-star) and again this year at Potomac.
Gutierrez has never hit more than four home runs in a season, but Scialabba said “we feel like he has developing power.”