Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: #5 Yosver Zulueta
Photo credit:Blue Jays PR
10 months ago
We’re approaching the upper-echelon of Blue Jays prospects, as today we’re looking at 25-year-old flamethrower, Yosver Zulueta.
Did you know, that this was his first real season in the Blue Jays organization? Not only that, but he had a quick rise, playing in all “A” levels, ending his season with the Buffalo Bisons. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before!
But before we look into his season, let’s look at the criteria.
Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that they are relative to the league in which they play. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible to have that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll be reviewing their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and giving a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!
Yosver Zulueta‘s career so far:
Zulueta was signed during the 2019 international free agency period. The Jays knew full well that the 25-year-old would need Tommy John surgery.
He impressed during the 2021 spring training but tore his ACL in his first game in Dunedin, facing just one batter. The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher spent 2022 relatively healthy, and the Jays were incredibly aggressive with him.
Zulueta started the season with the Low-A Dunedin Blue Jays, where he posted a 3 ERA and a 1.44 FIP in 12 innings pitched. In all three games he appeared in, he started, and he had a 45.1 K% and 5.9 BB%. It’s worth mentioning he was about two years older than the average pitcher in the Florida State League.
He earned a promotion to High-A Vancouver, where in his six starts, he had a 3.80 ERA and a 3.37 FIP in 23.2 innings pitched. His K% dropped to a still pretty fantastic 30.4%, but he struggled with command, as he had a 10.8 BB%.
Despite the struggles, he was promoted to Double-A New Hampshire, where he had a 4.11 ERA and a 4.33 FIP in 15.1 innings pitched. His K% actually increased to 34.2, but the struggle in control was even more noticeable, as he had a 19.2 BB%. He started his first two games with the Fisher Cats, before moving to the bullpen, likely due to an innings limit.
Zulueta was promoted to Tripe-A Buffalo to end the season, appearing in 4.2 innings (all in relief), where he had a 3.86 ERA and a 4.58 FIP. His K% normalized to 22.7%, while his BB% remained at a worrisome 18.2%.
Overall, Zulueta had a 3.72 ERA, with a 33.9 K% and a 12.9 BB% in 55.2 innings pitched across each level. The high walk rate shouldn’t be too surprising, as this was Zulueta’s first real season since early 2019.
The 25-year-old was added to the 40-man roster in November 2021.
Yosver Zulueta’s stuff:
Zulueta throws a fastball that sits in the high-90s, but has touched triple digits. He also has a sweeping slider that sits in the mid-80s, and a changeup that sits in the high-80s. His curveball is a get-me-over pitcher which is still in development.
Zulueta has a muscular frame, with solid legs, and broad shoulders. His fastball is his best pitch, not only due to the velocity but because it can be thrown around the zone for strikes. His best secondary pitch is his slider, with plenty of sweep and a great shape that sits in the mid-80s. His changeup has armside fade, while his curveball has a nice vertical break. Zulueta’s biggest concern is lack of control, and prior injuries.
Where he’ll start in 2023:
Zulueta will likely start in Triple-A Buffalo, hopefully as a starter. It’s not inconceivable to expect him to arrive on the Blue Jays at some point in 2023. In fact, he was expected to get a shot before an injury hampered that opportunity in August.
It’s to be seen whether his future is in the bullpen, or as a starter, but all four of his pitches are average or above average. That’s quite impressive for a player that just recently made his stateside debut.
To reach the next level, he has to stay healthy and drop the BB%. He’s capable of doing so.
Next up, we’ll look at a recently turned 21-year-old who had the most homers in the organization in 2022.
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