Frank Derry loves baseball. He founded Indians Ink magazine in the early 1990s to provide extensive…
Top 50 Prospects: 4. Franklin Gutierrez
The issue includes interviews with team president Paul Dolan, general manager Mark Shapiro, player development director John Farrell and scouting director John Mirabelli. Franklin Gutierrez made his major-league debut in 2005, a debut that while far from impressive statistically, could go a long way in helping him succeed in 2006. What he did prior to his arrival on the big-league level last year is what elevates him to No. 4 on this year's list of the Tribe's Top 50 prospects. He was rated No. 5 in 2005. Gutierrez, a right-handed outfielder acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Milton Bradley trade on April 4, 2004, was brought up on Aug. 31, mainly to give the Indians some speed off the bench. He also was a defensive replacement at times. In over a month on the big league roster, Gutierrez had only one at-bat. Before arriving in Cleveland, he had hit .261 in 95 games at Akron and .254 in 19 games at Buffalo despite missing some time with a dislocated finger. Gutierrez's performance through two seasons in the Indians organization has Tribe coaches and front office personnel believing he has the potential to one day replace Grady Sizemore as the Indians' starting centerfielder. In that scenario, Sizemore would move to left field. "He covers more ground than anyone we have in the system and that may very well include Grady Sizemore," minor league operations director John Farrell said of Gutierrez, who will play in center field at Class AAA Buffalo to start the 2006 season. "He has an above average throwing arm, so he has the ability to cut runners down if a guy tries to take an extra base on him on a ball hit into right-center field gap." Gutierrez's ability to play center, a position known more for defensive skills, takes some of the pressure off his bat. He doesn't have to worry about putting up big power numbers that you like to see from a corner outfielder. Right now, Gutierrez is still developing at the plate. When he arrived from the Dodgers, he was strictly a pull hitter. The Indians have worked long and hard with him to use all fields and to cut down on swinging at the breaking ball that has been his biggest nemesis to date. Gutierrez admittedly took a step back in his offensive progression, a fact that left him questioning the Tribe's motives. But Farrell is convinced Gutierrez has now taken two steps forward and is probably only a year, at most, away from being ready to be a full-time major-leaguer. "Another 500 or 600 at-bats are going to allow him to answer some of the questions," Farrell said. In 440 at-bats last season, Gutierrez struck out 90 times, but that was a major improvement over previous years. In 2004, he had struck out 88 times in 289 at-bats after fanning 131 times in 492 at-bats during his final year in the Dodgers organization. Farrell believes that in having both Gutierrez and Sizemore, "We are really fortunate. We feel like we have two bona fide major leaguers. In our market, we're always going to have decisions that must be made. By having options it gives us options. We'll have to make tough decisions. That is what we want to have to do." VITAL STATISTICS Name: Franklin Gutierrez Position: Outfielder DOB: Feb. 21, 1983 Height: 6-2; Weight: 180 Bats: Right; Throws: Right How Acquired: From Los Angeles Dodgers on April 4, 2004, along with RHP Andrew Brown for OF Milton Bradley FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ'S MINOR-LEAGUE CAREER Yr Team Age G AB H AVG HR RBI SB BB SO 01 GC Dodgers 18 56 234 63 .269 4 30 9 16 39 02 South Georgia 19 92 362 102 .282 12 45 13 31 88 02 Las Vegas 19 2 10 3 .300 0 2 0 1 4 03 Vero Beach 20 110 425 120 .282 20 68 17 39 111 03 Jacksonville 20 18 67 21 .313 4 12 3 7 20 04 Akron 21 70 262 79 .302 5 35 6 23 77 04 Buffalo 21 7 27 4 .148 1 3 0 1 11 05 Akron 22 95 383 100 .261 11 42 14 30 77 05 Buffalo 22 19 67 17 .254 0 7 2 6 13 Minor Totals 469 1,837 509 .277 57 244 64 154 440 INDIANS INK TOP 50 PROSPECTS FOR 2006 1 THROUGH 10 1. Jeremy Sowers, LHP 2. Brad Snyder, OF 3. Adam Miller, RHP 4. Franklin Gutierrez, OF 5. Ryan Garko, 1B/C 6. Fausto Carmona, RHP 7. Stephen Head, 1B 8. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B 9. Michael Aubrey, 1B 10. Tony Sipp, LHP
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