As the Blue Jays continue to expand to various Asian markets with the signings of Japanese pitcher Shun Yamaguchi and free-agent Korean hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu, one of their newest Central American prospects, a recently signed Cuban pitcher by the name of Yosver Zulueta, is improving steadily and surely.
One source says that the lanky righty’s fastball has been topping out at 100 mph, updating an earlier report from Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, which notes that the Blue Jays used international bonus pool money from the trades of Kendrys Morales and Dwight Smith Jr. to sign Zulueta and two other pitchers in June.
Another industry source comments that while Zulueta is a bit wild at times, he displays an immense amount of raw talent. In an overarching assessment, one evaluator calls him a “diamond in the rough”.
Prior to signing with the organization, Zulueta, who hails from the northern town of Remedios, Cuba, pitched for the Villa Clara province (on a team called the Naranjas de Villa Clara, which roughly translates to the Villa Clara Oranges) in the 2016-17 Cuban National Series. In 22.0 innings in the CNS, Zulueta pitched to an ERA of 4.09, striking out 22 in three starts.
It was also told to Blue Jays Nation that the 21-year-old is developing a sneakily effective curveball which should complement his already potent fastball.
At this point, it is not known where Zulueta will start the 2020 season, though one can reasonably assume that he’ll head to Short Season-A Vancouver, or, even more conservatively, the Gulf Coast League as a form of extended spring training.
The last major free-agent the Blue Jays signed out of Cuba, aside from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in 2016, was Adeiny Hechavarrià, who signed a four-year, $10 million contract in 2010.