Zulueta to AA, Frasso to High A

The Blue Jays announced a pair of player moves today. RHP Yosver Zulueta, who has racked up 54 strikeouts over 35 innings at two levels this year, moves up to New Hampshire, while Nick Frasso, who has fanned 42 in IP for Dunedin, moves up to Vancouver to presumably take Zulueta’s spot in the rotation.

Zulueta signed at the age of 21 for $1 million near the end of the 2018-19 signing period, after having left his native Cuba. The Blue Jays signed him even though they knew he was headed for Tommy John surgery. Zulueta spent 2020 rehabbing at the minor league complex, and was set to likely move quickly through the system before tearing his ACL three pitches into his first 2021 start.

Zulueta has a starter’s mix of pitches, highlighted by a fastball that routinely hits the upper 90s (his velo was down a bit earlier this month). He throws a curve, change, and slider. Statcast identifies his main pitch as a sinker, but it’s likely a four seamer. Either way, he gets a ton of whiffs on it up in the zone, and his two seamer has excellent movement.

It’s interesting that despite his lack of pro experience, the Blue Jays have moved him quickly, and while he likely will remain a starter while with New Hampshire, if he can continue to get hitters out at AA, there will be a temptation to pare his repertoire down and move him into the bullpen before long. He is definitely on the fast track to MLB.

The main thing we knew prior to his joining the organization prior to be being drafted in the 4th round in 2020 about Frasso is that he had some serious hops. His basketball background sat well with a number of scouts, according to Baseball America:

Frasso hits plenty of checkpoints scouts have for a young pitcher. He’s a college arm who still has physical projection remaining in his 6-foot-5 frame and was a standout high school basketball player whose athleticism is evident on the mound. He throws strikes with a 92-95 mph fastball that plays up because of its high spin rate and his ability to generate extension out front. His slider is still inconsistent, but it has tight spin and flashes plus potential. Frasso has shown some feel for a changeup, but it’s a third pitch that lags behind.

Frasso underwent UCL repair surgery after partially tearing the ligament last summer. The less invasive technique is relatively new, and involves using surgical tape infused with collagen to mend the tear, as opposed to replacing it, which involves a much longer rehab.

Frasso has been up to 97 with his fastball, and generates plenty of whiffs on his sinker. His numbers from his last start, a tidy 4 innings of shutout, 2-hit, 7K ball:

Frasso’s outings have been limited to 4 innings as he continues to return from his surgery. We should see him start to gradually get stretched out over the summer. Like Zulueta, he has the mix of pitches to start, but that velo could move him to the big leagues quicker in a bullpen role.

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