From FedEx Driver to MLB Pitcher, This New Yorker is Living His Dream
Every professional athlete has a story of how they got to the highest level in their respective sport.
At one point or another, they picked up a glove, a ball, a stick or whatever your sport of choice uses, and sooner or later, they fell in love. They worked tirelessly, they spent nights and weekends in cars or hotels, and they sacrificed everything else in order to be successful.
Then, they were drafted, or otherwise discovered, and their passion would eventually turn into their career.
Jose Cuas has a somewhat different story of how he made it to Major League Baseball. While it's different, it's also inspiring, and it all came full circle this week in Cleveland, Ohio.
Jose Cuas Goes From FedEx Driver to Major League Baseball Pitcher
Cuas was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but was raised in New York, and referred to himself as someone who "grew up in New York" in an interview with MLB.com. He was drafted by Milwaukee in 2015, but as an infielder, and spent two seasons in the Brewers' system before the organization attempted to convert him into a pitcher.
One year after that, he was released by the team.
He would return to New York to continue his professional career, signing with the Long Island Ducks of independent baseball. That opportunity led him to another, one with the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization. Things were looking up for the then-25 year old, but as millions of people would come to understand, COVID-19 had other plans.
Since he wasn't considered a top prospect of the Diamondbacks, he was released again. This time, there wasn't an immediate option for him to continue playing.
Jose Cuas had a family to feed, with a longtime girlfriend, a young child, and another on the way. His girlfriend, Anais Peña, encouraged him to continue working at his baseball goal, which he did, training at night. During the day, however, Cuas worked for FedEx, delivering boxes to those in quarantine in Brooklyn, New York.
His persistence with training did lead him to something: an opportunity to return home, to the Dominican Republic, and pitch in the Dominican Winter League for the team Aguilas. It was there, during his 13 games in which he sported a 1.80 ERA, that he was re-discovered by Tony Peña Jr., a coach in the Kansas City Royals' organization.
He signed a contract with Kansas City, and was invited to Spring Training in 2022, where he raised eyebrows with a few stellar performances. He was so good, in fact, that Sports Illustrated penned an article about Cuas on April 7th saying that fans should keep his name in mind.
Then, less than two months into the 2022 season, Cuas got the call to the big leagues, and more importantly, got the call from the bullpen, to pitch in a game against the Cleveland Guardians.
He recorded his first career strikeout during an inning of work on Tuesday. And with that, Cuas' passion officially became his career, and one of the best professional sports debut stories in recent memory had been completed.