The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate team, placed top pitching prospect Yosver Zulueta on the 7-day IL last night.
Amidst a disappointing away series against the Baltimore Orioles, the woes continued to add up for the Blue Jays as they placed Yosver Zulueta on the 7-day injured list Wednesday night. The exact injury underlying the IL placement is currently unknown.
Zulueta, the Blue Jays’ top right-handed pitching prospect according to Baseball America, was enjoying a strong breakout season in the minor leagues before the disappointing injury news.
In 14 MiLB games across the Single-A, High-A, and Double-A levels, the Cuban righty pitched to a solid 3.72 ERA in 46 innings of work.
Armed with an electric fastball that often flirts with triple digits, Zulueta was able to strike out 70 batters in the 46 innings that he pitched, good for an eye-catching 13.7 K/9 rate. With the big league team lacking elite pitchers with strikeout potential in the bullpen, the Blue Jays were in the midst of converting Zulueta to a reliever, at least until the end of the 2022 season.
However, it remains to be seen whether Zulueta can recover quickly enough from his most recent injury to earn a September call-up and an opportunity to impress the team before the playoffs begin.
Even if Zulueta recovers quickly and continues to dominate Double-A hitting, the Blue Jays may elect to err on the side of caution with their top right-handed pitching prospect. With the additions of Zach Pop and Anthony Bass at the deadline, the Blue Jays have considerably mitigated one of their most glaring weaknesses, thereby reducing the need to rush Zulueta’s development.
Moreover, Zulueta’s extended injury history – Tommy John surgery in 2020 and an ACL tear in 2021 – puts him at risk of getting shut down early if the current injury necessitates a lengthy rehab process.
Regardless of what direction the Blue Jays decide to take with Zulueta, the recent injury is a disappointing setback to what has largely been a positive season of growth and development for the Cuban righty. The hope will be that injury is not a serious one and that Zulueta can finish his season with momentum to build on for the 2023 campaign. If all goes to plan, fans may even see Zulueta pitch in meaningful September games in a Blue Jays uniform.