Yosver Zulueta: The Blue Jays pitcher everyone is suddenly talking about
When the Toronto Blue Jays announced their non-roster invitees for Spring Training 2021 last week, much of the focus was unsurprisingly on top prospects such as Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, and Austin Martin. However, there was also one surprising name that many Blue Jays experts were excited to see: Yosver Zulueta.
Who is Yosver Zulueta?
Yosver Zulueta is a 23-year-old pitcher that the Blue Jays signed out of Cuba in 2019 for $1.5 million. After dominating hitters in the Cuban National Series — Zulueta had a 1.96 ERA at the time of his defection — and hitting the upper 90s with his fastball in multiple showcases, Zulueta quickly cemented himself as one of the top international free agents of 2019.
After signing with Toronto, Zulueta was quickly assigned to the DSL Blue Jays (Toronto’s rookie affiliate team). However, before even getting the chance to throw a minor league inning, Zulueta was diagnosed with a torn UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery soon after signing his new contract.
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Like the countless other pitchers who tear their UCL, Zulueta began the long rehabilitation process associated with Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2019. Fast forward fifteen months and he’s been invited to experience Spring Training camp with the big league team as a non-roster invitee.
Zulueta’s Pitch Arsenal
The excitement and hype surrounding Zulueta amongst Blue Jays fans right now may stem from the fact that not many people have actually seen him pitch. He’s a relatively unknown commodity, which adds a fascinating layer of intrigue and curiosity. For the few scouts and baseball execs that did have the chance to see Zulueta pitch, the vast majority provided overwhelmingly positive scouting reports.
Zulueta’s pitch arsenal primarily consists of four pitches: a mid-to-high 90s fastball, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider. In an interview with Call To The Pen’s Yusseff Diaz in 2020, Zulueta expressed confidence in his curveball and changeup while stating his desire to keep improving his slider. Moreover, here’s an excerpt from Scott Mitchell’s Top 50 Blue Jays prospects list that might get you excited:
"In Dunedin, he was regularly touching high-90s with his heat, including one secondhand report of a session where he faced Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in November and hit 99 mph on the gun, drawing a bit of an oh-my look from Vladdy."
Zulueta’s Future in Toronto
Though Zulueta primarily pitched as a starter in Cuba, his future role with Toronto has yet to be decided. The Blue Jays may let him try to develop as a starter, but it’s also not difficult to envision Zulueta thriving in high leverage situations at the end of games with his already-elite fastball.
Regardless of his future role, his is a name that should now firmly be on the radar of Blue Jays fans. With a continued run of good health and a chance to finally pitch in the minor leagues, it may not be long until Blue Jays fans hear (and see) much more of Yosver Zulueta.