Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview with Carlos Gutierrez

With the beginning of the 2010 Major League Baseball season nearing, I thought it would be good to hear from a Minnesota Twins prospect. So, I had the opportunity to ask Carlos Gutierrez some questions about his life and baseball career thus far. For those of you who don't know much about Carlos, he was drafted in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft with the 27th overall pick.

Kevin Lewis: Carlos, thank you for taking time to answer a few questions today.

Carlos Gutierrez: No problem, thanks for having me on.

KL: Carlos, before we dive into the specifics about your first two seasons as a member of the Minnesota Twins organization, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. What made you decide to become a baseball athlete?

CG: I have been playing baseball since I was about four years old. My dad always signed us ( my brother David) up in different baseball and basketball leagues. Baseball was something we were both good at and we just kept playing.

KL: Growing up in Florida, more specifically, the Miami area, who were some of your baseball idols that you looked up to and followed? Do you have someone in your life that was by your side while becoming a baseball player?

CG: I never had one person in specific I followed, but I always loved going to the University of Miami baseball games. My dad would take us to a couple of games a week there and we became really big fans.

KL: You were drafted 27th overall in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Entry Draft. A lot of people were wondering why the Twins would pick a pitcher just coming off Tommy John surgery. When you talked to the Twins, what did they tell you about choosing you?

CG: They never told me anything about choosing me, talking with scouts before from all teams the main thing everyone wanted to know was how I felt. I told everyone it felt better then ever.

KL: You have had a pretty good career so far in the minor leagues. It appears as though you will be starting at New Britain, the Twins Double-A affiliate. What do you feel you will need to work on this season to appear ready to jump to the next level at Rochester?

CG: There is always something any player can work on to get better. Something I thought needed to be addressed in my case was better feel for a change-up. I have been working on it almost daily every time I play catch and in my pens. It is something that still needs work and should come the more I use it in games.

KL: Some people have you as a future set-up man for the Twins, while others have you as possibly becoming a starter down the road. Have the Twins talked to you on how they plan to utilize you as a pitcher once you reach the 25-man roster?

CG: I have not heard exactly what they want but again there is still work that needs to be done. Whenever they feel I am ready I will do whatever is asked of me, whether that be coming out of the pen or as a starter. The Twins have a pretty good track record with this type of thing so I'm not too worried.

KL: How did your off-season go? Did you participate in any winter leagues or train with any other Twins players?

CG: I did not go to any winter leagues this off-season. I am currently training at the University of Miami with Adan Severino (Twins outfielder).

KL: As an avid baseball fan, what is life like as a minor league player? What is the typical routine for you during a day?

CG: I enjoy what I do everyday. Doing what we do traveling around being away from home away from your family for so long is not easy. It is something that you really have to love in order to put yourself through that every year, which I do. Typical off-season day is pretty much working out, throwing, and cardio. Not in any specific order, just to make sure you are getting stuff done and staying in shape.

KL: Playing at the University of Miami (FL) must have been such a thrill for you. Not only because they are one of the biggest powerhouse teams in college baseball, but also because you were born and raised Miami. Tell us a little bit about your experience at the “U”. Do you still remain in touch with your teammates?

CG: Playing at the "U" was a dream come true right from the beginning. As I said earlier, I would always go to games with my family. To put on that uniform for the first time was a great feeling. Then to have my brother join me on the team for a few years was also a great experience. We had great teams while I was there. Many friendships were formed in my time at UM and yes we do keep in touch. We all check up on one another, making sure we are doing okay.

KL: If you aren’t working out or on the road, what do you like to do in your free time?

CG: I pretty much do anything and everything just to get out and do something. I like to stay active. But on my down time I'll play video games or watch a movie.

KL: For all the current baseball players who have a wish to play in the majors, let alone get drafted, what advice would you give them?

CG: I would say to put in the work. Hard work pays off.

KL: Carlos, thank you for taking time, especially as Spring Training nears, to answer a few questions about your career as a minor league player for the Minnesota Twins. Good luck this season and hope to see you in the Twin Cities in a year or two.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thoughts on Off-Season Moves

With just one week until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, the Twins 2010 roster is looking as if they will be big time contenders this year. Not only for the A.L. Central crown, but possibly a deep run into late October. Going into this off-season, they needed to not only prove to their fans that they were going to improve their team heading into a new stadium, but they also needed to prove to Joe Mauer that they are committed to winning.

Entering the final year of his 4 year deal worth $33 million, Joe Mauer, reigning AL MVP, wanted to see what the Twins would do to try to improve the team and show him that they are committed to winning and ready to compete with the big guys (i.e. Yankees, Red Sox). Mauer should be very pleased with the off-season the Twins put together. Some people may think that the Twins may have had the best off-season of all 30 MLB clubs this year.

The Twins filled some holes that had been empty for a few years now and even increased their payroll to a new club high of 96 million dollars, 31 million more than last years Opening Day payroll of 65 million. The three biggest moves made this off-season for the Twins were the additions of Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy.

To kick off the Twins off-season activity was the acquisition of J.J. Hardy from next door neighbor, Milwaukee. With Orlando Cabrera hitting the free agent market, the Twins were in need of an everyday shortstop. So on November 6th, the Twins traded outfielder, Carlos Gomez to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy. Although Hardy’s numbers slipped a bit during 2009, the Twins feel as though he can be a quality shortstop for the next two years and hopefully he remains a Twin for longer than that. With the departure of Gomez, this pretty much sets the outfield to look like Young-Span-Cuddyer.

The Twins were also looking to improve their bench by trying to sign a left handed hitter. Well they got their man in Jim Thome. After years of torturing us as a member of the Indians and White Sox, he will be playing for his 3rd AL Central team. Although Thome will be 39 years old come Opening Day. But don’t let his age make you not like this signing. Last year he hit .249 with 23 homeruns and 77 runs batted, so he still has some left in the tank. Look for him to take some of Kubel’s at-bats at the DH position, while also coming off the bench. Don’t forget he also plays first base, so Morneau won’t have the pressure to stay healthy all year and play all 162 games at first base.

The Twins finished off their activity with the signing of second baseman, Orlando Hudson. Hudson will not only fill a need the Twins have had for many years at second base, but he will also provide leadership in the clubhouse. Hudson will likely jump into the #2 spot between Denard Span and Joe Mauer. He fits the Twins mold as he is a career .282 hitter and last year had a career high with nine sacrifice hits. That is typical Twins baseball. With the addition of Hudson, Nick Punto will split time with Brendan Harris at third base.

If these three signings weren’t a sign of commitment, then I don’t know what is. This was a very exciting off-season for myself and I’m sure for many other Twins fans. I think this will make the Twins the pre-season favorites to win their 2nd straight AL Central Title. This should be a very exciting inaugural season at Target Field.