Daniel Gutierrez should feel pretty special at this point.
His player paragraph was the first thing I read in this year’s Baseball Prospectus
book. And boy, did BP have some glowing things to say about him:
outstanding command of both a mid-90s heater and a plus curve in the Midwest
League playoffs, when he allowed just two runs in 12 innings with 17 strikeouts
and just two walks in helping the Bees sweep to the championship. By the end of
the year, the Royals felt he was by far the best pitcher they had at any minor
Wow. The best? At any minor league level? OK, so maybe
Gutierrez has more reasons to feel special than just being where I started my
2009 BP reading excursion. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America loves the 6’1″, 180-pound
Gutierrez too, rating him as the #7 overall Royals prospect. Cooper lists
Gutierrez’s curveball and command as the very best in the organization.
So what does it take to stay on top? Does a pitcher with that much going for him
get to just chill all winter?
No. Ohhhh no. Fans like me might get to sit around drinking Dr Pepper and watching MLB Network all offseason, but the work scarcely stops for prospects like this one. Gutierrez said in an e-mail interview that he does weight training five days a week and
long-distance running the other two days.
That’s a pretty normal workload for other players he knows at his level, but Gutierrez thinks he pushes harder. “I have a lot of pride in how hard I work and I like to think that I’m working harder than the guy I’m competing with,” he said. He spent the winter focusing on lower body and core strength.
We already know about that very-fast fastball and plus curve, but Gutierrez seems eager to show off another piece of the arsenal this season – his changeup. He used it a little bit last season, but not a whole lot. “I have a really good feel for it now so this season should be fun,” he said.
So is it all work and no play for the soon-to-be 22-year-old? Nah. “I don’t think people
know just how hard we work and the dedication that is needed to be successful
in this game,” Gutierrez said. “There is time that we HAVE to take off for vacation. Baseball not only drains you physically but mentally as well and it’s always good to get away from the game for a couple days.”
Gutierrez may not be a part of the big-league camp right now, but he’s got the Majors in his sights. Scouts say that it could be late 2010 before we see Gutierrez in a big-league game, but he’s not buying that. He said he sees himself up in the Bigs in September…of this season.
Will he make it to The Show that soon? We’ll see. But whether his callup happens this season or the next, Daniel Gutierrez is most definitely one to watch.
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