Blue Jays lose an intriguing pitching prospect to roster crunch as Yosver Zulueta claimed by Reds

Photo credit:csplusbaseball.com
Nick Prasad
14 days ago
On Friday, Blue Jays Nation writer Brennan Delaney touched on a roster move that ultimately is detrimental to the future of the Blue Jays, their pitching staff, and the opportunity to develop and shape a highly elite arm.
After finalizing the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays designated right-handed pitcher Yosver Zulueta for assignment. As per TSN, it was announced that Zulueta was claimed off of waivers by the Cincinnati Reds.
To say the least, this is a huge loss for the Toronto Blue Jays. Zulueta was measured to be a very projectable arm that would have seen some time in the big leagues this year. His durability on the mound allowed him to consume innings and he would have come in as a reliever with the ability to slide his way into the rotation if opportunities presented themselves. 
The Cuban international prospect came to the minors with foreign professional experience, flaunting tools and characteristics of interest. He played in the Cuban National Series and the Canadian-American Association. He posted a 3.29 ERA in four foreign seasons and a 3.14 ERA in the Cuban National Series. 
In 2021 he was a member of the Blue Jays organization, however the pandemic and injury set him back until 2022 where he trampolined from high A all the way to AAA. He stacked up 55.2 innings between multiple levels and finished with a 3.72 ERA. With 248 batters faced, he sat 84 sticks and free-passed only 32 hitters.
Zulueta showed evolving pitch-ability and was able to battle counts. Fast-forward to 2023, and Zulueta finished 4-4 with a bit more struggle; he posted a 4.08 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 45 walks over 64 innings. The noticeable change was the walk ratio and more consistent free bags that he was used to. This was not detrimental to Zulueta’s advancement, as his pitch arsenal and ability to compete against established bats were noticeable. 
The Cuban righty was equipped with a plus-plus 70-scaled fastball on the 20-80 scale. His fastball is elite; it touched 97mph prior to Tommy John Surgery and sat consistently at 95.5mph post-surgery. His ability to throw strikes was apparent, despite 2023 when his strike-to-ball ratio was almost 50/50. His repertoire also included a slider and changeup, which complimented his pitch palette. 
Zulueta has an upright delivery with a short-arm turnover and sticks his delivery at the end. His mechanics are established, and he’s zoned into his craft. He can spot up his pitches and work both sides of the plate despite the hitter at hand. He shows a good use of his off-speed and breaking pitches, and can mix it up well per innings worked. 
Where does Zulueta stand in the league? He is most definitely a long-riding reliever who can eat quality innings and push the situation competitively to give his club a chance at a win. Being a pitcher of longevity, Zulueta has the potential to slip into a starting role to ride at least 5-6 innings per start. Zulueta would have been a good long-term investment for the Blue Jays, providing versatility in the pitching staff. The Blue Jays will miss out on quality innings and the potential development of a stellar right-hander who can pitch a game. The Cincinnati Reds will prosper with Zulueta in their system.  


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