The Cincinnati Reds have acquired right-handed pitcher Yosver Zulueta from the Toronto Blue Jays. Francys Romero is reporting that the Reds claimed the pitcher off of waivers this afternoon. To make room on the 40-man roster, Cincinnati moved Matt McLain to the 60-day injured list and optioned Zulueta to Triple-A.

Yosver Zulueta is a 26-year-old pitcher out of Cuba, who came to the US back in 2020. He missed that year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He returned to the mound in 2021, but pitched in just one minor league game that season with Toronto’s Single-A club in Dunedin. He faced one batter and tore his ACL while covering first base on the first play of the game.

In 2022 he split time starting and relieving at all four levels of full-season ball in the minor leagues, posting a 3.72 ERA in 55.2 innings. In the 2023 season he was with Triple-A Buffalo all year and posted a 4.08 ERA in 38 relief appearances and seven starts. He threw 64.0 innings, allowed just one home run, but walked 45 batters and hit 10 more. He did strike out 73 hitters along the way. You can see his career stats here.

Spring training didn’t go well for him. He only pitched in five games, but in his 5.0 innings he allowed six earned runs on seven hits and four walks. Zulueta struck out just two of the 25 batters that he faced.

A hard-throwing righty, Zulueta averaged 96 MPH last season with both his 2-seamer and his 4-seamer. He also mixes in a change up, a slider, and a curveball. Since the start of 2023 he’s leaned more on his 2-seamer than his 4-seamer, and he’s really dropped off the usage of both his curveball and change up – almost to the point where he’s been a fastball (though there were two fastballs) and slider guy exclusively.

There’s probably some upside with his stuff. But he’s a 26-year-old who has had a history off strike-throwing problems, too. If he can hone in his control a little bit, his high ground ball rate would play well with his ability to miss bats.

In terms of his contract, he’s still under team control for at least six seasons. He’s never pitched in the big leagues. Zulueta also has two option years remaining (including this year).

46 Responses

  1. David

    So, this reclamation guy goes to AAA ball? Sounds kind of injury prone. If I were the Reds, I would stick him in the starting rotation and just let him pitch and get in his innings. Sounds like he just needs work to get his control sharper.

    Kind of surprised that Rhett Lowder is starting at High A this season, instead of AA.

    But the Reds know what’s best.

    • Doug Gray

      The rosters aren’t out yet for the teams in the minors except for Louisville. Where are you seeing Lowder’s for sure going to Dayton?

      • DaveCT

        I think he’s just still listed on the Dayton roster from last season as opposed to the Lookouts roster.

      • Mauired

        They had him in Dayton last year not to pitch but to get familiar with the staff with the intention of starting there.

        I thought he was advanced enough for AA but seems like they don’t want to rush him.

      • Doug Gray

        That’s not really true, though. They had him in Dayton to get used to the professional baseball life. Dayton doesn’t have the same pitching coach this year as they had last year.

        But even if all of what you said was true – where is the idea coming from that he’s going to be in Dayton? They do not have a roster yet. The players who will be in Dayton this year have not left Arizona to fly to Dayton yet.

      • DaveCT

        Doug Gray, Herder of Cats.

        I’ll try again. There is no announcement that Lowder is assigned to Dayton.

        There is only his name on the Dayton roster from their website from last season.

        There is also speculation in the series of articles Tom Nichols did previewing each season. And this speculation is based on … last year’s roster.

      • Doug Gray

        That’s what you are speculating. But you, unless you were using another user name, are not either of the two people who claimed Lowder was starting in Dayton. I’m asking if those people actually know something that we don’t, or if, as you are speculating, they simply looked at the “rosters” without realizing that they aren’t accurate today.

      • David

        Doug

        I only know what I read on the Internet, ie, the Dayton Dragons website.

        I have no other information, or insight.

        Fer shure, it may be that Lowder is assigned to AA. If he did start in high A for a few turns, and was very good, no reason NOT to promote him to AA level. And so forth.

        Sorry if that comment seemed offensive. Just commenting on what I saw.

      • Doug Gray

        It’s not offensive – I just was trying to figure out if I missed news somewhere.

        The rosters on the minor league sites – except for Louisville who begins play tomorrow (everyone else begins a week from tomorrow) – are not accurate. They simply reflect where players were assigned last year, unless they’ve been involved in some other transaction since then (trade, free agency, assigned to AAA or MLB clubs).

      • Mauired

        I might be mistaken but I believe I saw an in game interview with Lowder (last year) and he stated that he was going to start with Dayton. It was awhile back though so I could be remembering this wrong.

      • Mauired

        For what it’s worth I would think the most advanced pitcher in college baseball would be able to skip a ball but I don’t have me say in the matter.

    • MBS

      Lowder is starting in A+, that works for me. We’re not in a position where we need to fast track any prospect. We are currently down 2 starting pitchers and we still haven’t had to dip into the AAA rotation. That’s pretty remarkable! AAA has 3 solid options to call up if need be.

      Lowder getting his feet wet in Dayton is a good way to start his professional career. If he rockets himself through the system that’s great too, so I wouldn’t hold him back by any means.

      • DaveCT

        I, too, would be fine if Lowder had ten or so starts at Hi-A but I believe the news he’s been assigned there is incorrect and simply reflects last year’s roster where he’d been assigned.

      • Luke J

        Obviously, that’s just their assumption, since, as Doug said, rosters aren’t out yet.

  2. wkuchad

    Without waiving a player, are there other potential spots on the 40, or was moving McLain to the 60-day IL the last one?

    • LarkinPhillips

      According to MLB, Friedl Moll Williamson Gibaut and Lodolo are all on 15 day IL. So unless one of them is for sure 60 day worthy at this point I think a dfa would have to occur. Friedl is most likely able to be added to 60 day in my opinion. Not a doctor, but 6-8 weeks recovery plus working back into a rhythm seems like more than 60 days to me.

    • LarkinPhillips

      He has the fever. TyFloyd Fever. Not really sure. I don’t remember him even appearing in a ST game. I could be wrong though.

      • MK

        Sure hope that does not catch on would rather see a more historic baseball reference Floyd “The Barber”.

        I have heard that Rhett would be in Chattanooga, but frankly my dear I don’t give a Da**.

  3. AllTheHype

    Last spot on the 40 man, first one back off it when a better player needs a spot.

    • Optimist

      +100, and better to be exposutlating on this than the 26th spot on the MLB roster, or the last few spots in the bullpen amongst a collection of not-at-all-good-leftovers.

      • Optimist

        Expostulating, although exposutlating has a certain clangy ring to it.

      • greenmtred

        Has a different meaning, though.

  4. MBS

    We got Mike Ford back, that’s good new to me

    • AllTheHype

      Like that. Rather have him DHing today instead of Martini. I get the Thompson roster spot for CF backup. But I don’t get Martini over Ford.

      • Mauired

        Simple explanation. Martini is on 40 man roster and Ford isn’t.

      • PTBNL

        Martini and his 2 for 2 dingers would beg to differ.

      • Jim

        Are we ok with Martini over Ford now. Maybe our baseball people know baseball…

  5. LDS

    Like an old Skynyrd song – “that smell ….”. Someone close the lid on the dumpster. Are the Reds capable of signing someone who is a reclamation project?

    • AllTheHype

      Mike Trout wasn’t on the waiver wire. Is that who you wanted?

      • Doug Gray

        It’s who I want. How do we make this happen?

      • AllTheHype

        No Problem. Half of today’s lineup may be missing tomorrow though.

    • 2020ball

      What would you do instead, leave the spot open?

    • MK

      To be reclamation project you had to be something that was something before that you are trying to get back to that status. Zuleta(sic) is still on the way up, much in the same way Fernando Cruz was. What possible hurt does it do to take a shot?

  6. Optimist

    Interesting claim – a fluke injury following the TJ, interrupted experience, but seems there’s a pitcher in there somewhere. Plenty of time to find out. Put him in AA, ignore the results until July, and see where he’s best suited.

    • DaveCT

      Can you imagine coming from Cuba to America, blowing out your elbow then blowing out your knee after returning to the field for a matter of minutes?

  7. JayTheRed

    So, the scoop from a Blue Jay fan is this guy has nasty strikeout possibilities Control has been his main enemy. I feel like he could be a very solid 7th inning guy or possibly set up man if he can get control of his pitches. ERA throughout his minor league career has been pretty solid. I don’t think he will become a starting pitcher as he has not pitched a lot of innings in the minors. Though Starters tend to only go 5 or 6 innings these days so perhaps that will change. Yes, he is 26. But honestly that is not that old. He could be a late bloomer and with Johnson’s help maybe he will be a nice piece in our future bullpen.

    • Grand Salami

      Teach him the patented DJ slider and let him throw that with his fastball combo. I’m willing to be his control issues are with his curveball, change up, off speed offerings.

      He’s got 3 months to figure it out.

  8. jmb

    Great! But now release him and claim Mejia, a former #1 pick of Cleveland’s who was just DFA’d by the Rays, for catching depth.

    • jmb

      Ah, a former #1 prospect of Cleveland’s. not a #1 pick of theirs.

      • Grand Salami

        5 years ago he was considered the best catching prospect in all of baseball. What happened?

      • Doug Gray

        Most prospects don’t turn out to be nearly as good as people hoped. That’s what happened.

  9. Pat

    So how does David Bell justify not starting Nartini who obviously has the hot bat? And what’s up with Diaz?