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Vladimir Gutierrez's Velocity Ticks Up In 2020



The Reds added 25-year-old righthander Vladimir Gutierrez to their 40-man roster in order to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. He was part of the largest international signing class the organization has ever had.

During the 2016-17 signing period, Cincinnati spent nearly $30 million in bonuses and overage penalties on a class built around Gutierrez and two other Cuban players, shortstops Alfredo Rodriguez and Jose Garcia.

Since signing there have been some highs and some lows for Gutierrez. He had success in both 2017 and 2018 as he pitched in both high Class A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola.

In 2019 he climbed to Triple-A Louisville and in the first year that the league used the major league ball he ran into trouble, giving up 26 home runs in 137 innings and posting a 6.04 ERA. Gutierrez finished with a strong August, when he held hitters to a .184 average while striking out 41 in 33.2 innings with a 3.74 ERA.

Building on the strong finish, the Reds invited Gutierrez to spring training in 2020. He came to camp with a bit more velocity than in the past, throwing in the 95-97 mph range. But what soon followed was a failed test for the steroid Stanozolol that led to an 80-game suspension. Gutierrez will have to serve the remaining 20 games in 2021.

While the suspension meant that Gutierrez couldn’t join the 60-man player pool and pitch at the Reds' alternate training site, he participated in instructional league in the fall.

“He’s been good,” Reds minor league pitching coordinator Kyle Boddy said. “His curveball is legit. (His) velocity ticked back up to 95-plus by the end.”

Gutierrez pitched for Licey in the Dominican League this offseason to prepare for 2021.

“He’s full go to throw as many innings as he likes (for Licey),” Boddy said. “He wasn’t able to get much competition in this year, so we hope he throws a ton of innings. The remainder of his suspension naturally acts as a buffer against overuse, so we’re not worried at all.”

RED HOTS

— Along with Gutierrez, Cincinnati added righthanders Riley O’Brien and Jared Solomon to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

— Second baseman Alejo Lopez got out to a hot start in the Mexican Pacific League, hitting .322 through the first 28 games of the season.

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