Saturday, May 14, 2005

Franklin Gutierrez Report

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Cleveland Indians
Signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, 2000, Venezuela
Bats R/Throws R
22 YO, 6'2", 175 lbs

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to make of Gutierrez's first 100 at bats of 2005. The toolsy kid has always been plagued by bad plate discipline, but he's had power and the ability to hit for average. So this year he starts the year drawing walks, but the power and average have been pretty sketchy. I know the Indians have been working on his selectivity and pitch recognition skills. I wonder if this is a kind of adjustment he's going through on the way to being a more complete player. On the other hand, this might be a symptom that he's come unglued and is taking too many strikes. Or this could be the sample size demons screwing with us again.

2004 Akron: .302/.372/.466, 24 2B, 5 HR, 23 BB, 77 K, 262 AB
pre-2005 mL Career: .283/.346/.468, 92 2B, 46 HR, 118 BB, 350 K, 1386 AB

He's the kind of natural athlete who usually either turns into a star or a crushing disappointment. He's a great defensive outfielder with speed, range, and a good arm. He can run the bases. And he smacked 72 extra base hits as a 20 year old between the Florida State and Southern Leagues.

If the improvement in his plate discipline is for real, and he gets back to hitting for power and average, he's one of the best prospects in the Indians organization. If his walk rate is a sample size fluke or if he doesn't get back the juice of previous seasons, then he's not. One thing that could worry people is the strikeout rate. His 2004 K rate was pretty high, and 2005 isn't much better.

If you're looking for comps, then look at Magglio Ordonez as a best case and Alex Escobar would be a worst case. Usually I give a middle ground with these comps, but I'm drawing a bit of a blank.

ETA: Mid/Late 2006
3 1/2 Stars

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