Cueto uses a four-pitch repertoire, which includes a fastball, slider, a new and improved changeup and a sinker. His fastball, which tops out at 96 mph, is his best pitch.
But a big component of Cueto’s arsenal this season has been that changeup, which he learned from former Reds great Mario Soto in Spring Training. Soto taught him how to throw the offspeed pitch, and gave the young righty some critical lessons on the mental side of pitching.
“The biggest key to his success has been Soto teaching him a changeup,” Almaraz said. “Not only how to throw it, but commanding it, as well.”
In only his first full season in professional baseball, Cueto has been dominant, and he has the statistics to prove it.
He is 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 starts. He has thrown two complete-game shutouts, and Midwest League opponents are hitting a measly .191 against him. He has struck out 76 batters and walked 14.
Cueto is one of 3 Dragon starting pitchers that could be promoted to Sarasota soon.
UPDATE (by Chad): Nice find by the Reds scouting department, and Cueto really looks like he has some talent. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll keep tracking him.
UPDATE 2 (by Chad, again): It appears that Bill may be prescient. I have just gotten word that Cueto was promoted to Sarasota today. I’ll post a link once I have confirmation.
UPDATE 3 (by Chad): Okay, no link, but here’s the press release sent out by the Dayton Dragons:
Cueto Heads South
Dragons Ace headed to Sarasota Reds of Florida State League
Dayton, OH – The Cincinnati Reds have promoted RHP Johnny Cueto to the Sarasota Reds of the Florida State League. Cueto, who became the first pitcher in Dragons franchise history to start the Midwest League All-Star Game, had proven himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in the MWL in 2006. The right hander was 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 14 starts with the Dragons and had struck out 82 batters while walking only 15 in 76.1 innings of work. Cueto threw the first no-hitter in Dragons franchise history when he turned the trick at Wisconsin on May 13th at Fox Cities Stadium in a rain shortened five inning game. He followed that start up with a 7.0 inning complete game, one hit shutout against the Fort Wayne Wizards on May 18th at Fifth Third Field. At the time of his promotion, Cueto ranked tied for first in the MWL in shutouts (two), tied for second in the MWL in wins (eight), tied for second in the MWL in complete games (two) and was ninth in the league in ERA (2.59). On the 2006 season, the MWL was hitting just .191 against him.
Taking the spot of Cueto on the Dragons active roster is RHP Daniel Guerrero. The 6’1″, 190 pounder out of Tecuala, Mexico was signed by the Reds as a non-drafted free agent in March of 2005 and pitched in his first professional season in the Venezuelan Summer League for the VSL Reds. In 14 games, six as a starter, he posted a 2-1 record with a 3.08 ERA in 49.2 innings. The right hander struck out 42 and walked nine. Dayton will be the third team that Guerrero has pitched for in the Reds farm system in ’06. He made one appearance with the Sarasota Reds in the Florida State League and comes to the Dragons after a pair of starts with the Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League. Guerrero will take Cueto’s spot in the starting rotation and is slated to make his Dragons debut at Cedar Rapids on Friday, June 30th.