By Rodger M. Wood
Nationals $6 million signee and top Cuban pitching prospect, Yunesky Maya got off to a good start pitching three shutout innings in his Fast A – Carolina League debut at Potomac Sunday afternoon, but bothered by a blister on his throwing thumb, struggled with control issues in the 4th, walking the leadoff hitter and allowing tough Winston Salem batters to tee off on him for a 5-1 lead.
After the game, Maya explained the blister prevented him from throwing a change-up with any confidence and gripping his splitter the way he liked. In the 5th inning, Dash 1B Seth Loman launched an 87 mph fast ball, which was up to that point in the 90 -92 range, over the right field fence.
Except for 7 innings of 1-earned run ball in two starts at Rookie GCL, the 29-year old right hander had not pitched since defecting to the Dominican Republic over a year ago.
His work at GCL and Potomac is like a rehab tour intended at getting rid of the rust in his delivery. The seasoned veteran of international baseball is no novice to high pressure baseball. In the 2008-2009 Cuban National Season, Maya finished with a 13-4 record and seven complete games, and finished second among league leaders with a 2.22 ERA and 119 strikeouts finishing second to Reds prospect, Arodis Chapman’s league leading 130 strikeouts. During 6 Cuban National Series Seasons, Maya was 48-29 W-L, with a 2.51 ERA
Glad he got the work in against these aggressive young hitters, Maya anticipates his next start will be at Triple A Syracuse next week.
The Nationals plan on him being their 3rd starter in September.
I took the supporting photographs during the game at Potomac Sunday afternoon.