‘I just got released, I’m done with this,’” This was the conversation Royal’s pitcher, Jose Cuas, had with his younger brother Alex after being cut from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018. After some coaxing, Alex convinced his brother that this was just a setback and not the end of his baseball journey. It may have seemed far-fetched at the time, but years later, the decision to stick it out for one more season would be the best one he could make.
The Best Shortstop in NYC
Six years before getting released from the Brewers, Jose Cuas, was a high school baseball star. He led his high school Grand Street Campus to a victory at the 2012 city championship, and at six-foot-two, 190lb, the Brooklyn native had the size and the skills to make it to the next level. At the time of the 2012 draft, Cuas was the 21st ranked shortstop in the state and was regarded as the best shortstop in the city.
After being drafted by the Blue Jays out of high school, he decided not to sign with the team and continued his playing career at the University of Maryland. Cuas was a three-year starter in College Park before being drafted by the Brewers in 2015.
With little success at shortstop with the Brewers, they moved him over to pitcher to take advantage of his high-power arm. After being released from the Brewers, he went on to pitch for the Long Island Ducks, where he added one wrinkle to his game that would take his career to the next level.
One day while warming up, former MLB All-star, Francisco Rodriguez, saw him throw sidearm. He suggested that Cuas continue to throw from that angle because it provided him more deception and would keep hitters off balance.
In 2019, Cuas signed with the Diamondbacks and put up some stellar numbers in the minors with his new pitching motion. That season, he had a 1.60 ERA and only lost four of his fourteen save appearances.
Just as he began to gain some traction, the 2020 season was canceled due to covid, and Cuas was once again left without a job.
With no baseball to fall back on, he got a job at FedEx to support his son and pregnant girlfriend. Uncertain about his future, Cuas was ready to put his playing days behind him. Once again, his family wouldn’t allow him to give up on his dream.
“I told him, Don’t you dare do that. You are not going to quit. We did not sacrifice all this for you to quit,’” his girlfriend Anais told MLB.com.
During the Pandemic, he kept his head down and continued to develop his arsenal on the mound. After working his shift at FedEx, he would meet his brother, a former college pitcher, at a field by their childhood home in Brooklyn, and the two would throw until the lights would turn off at 11 PM.
Living the Dream
The long hours of work and training paid off. In 2021, Jose Cuas was signed by the Kansas City Royals. Then, in late May, Cuas had his chance to make his dream a reality when he was called up to the Big Leagues for a game against the Cleveland Guardians.
Cuas made his first relief appearance in the fifth inning with a man on first in a 6-2 game. He retired the first batter he faced, Oscar Mercado, with a nine-pitch strikeout. Then he reverted to his days as a shortstop, snagging two ground balls to finish the inning.
After the game, Cuas called the experience a dream come true. Check out his post-game press conference below.
Caus’s journey to the big leagues wasn’t typical. From switching positions to getting cut, to a global pandemic, his path wasn’t easy. He learned something that helped him turn his dream into a reality with every challenge he faced.
When it wasn’t working at short, he moved to pitcher. When he got cut, he pitched in Long Island, where he learned to throw sidearm. When the pandemic hit, he worked with his brother to add off-speed pitching,
When we hit opposition in our lives, maybe these challenges are placed there to give us the tools we need to succeed down the line.