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Johnny Cueto's investment in the future mirrors Giants' investment in Cueto

Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News on

Published in Baseball

"I feel a lot better," he said.

The Giants have missed Cueto's presence on the mound this season, but their $130 million investment in the veteran pitcher isn't being wasted. Instead of collecting checks and easing his way through a challenging recovery process, Cueto has spent much of 2019 taking many of the franchise's international prospects under his wing at the minor league complex.

Life can be lonely for teenagers who have recently arrived in the United States, but Cueto is helping dozens make the adjustment. He's leading group workouts, hosting group meals at a Scottsdale rental house and most importantly, he's taking a genuine interest in the futures of young Giants prospects with major league dreams.

"All of the guys that are at the minor league complex, I have taught them how to throw my changeup," Cueto said. "They're doing it the way I'm teaching them and they're all giving me feedback that they're feeling really good."

Cueto can't tell you the name of every prospect he's worked with, but they all know him. The right-hander is one of the most accomplished major league pitchers in Dominican Republic history and an icon in his home country.

In Arizona, Cueto isn't just a pitcher in the same organization as players with dreams of playing at the highest level. He's their mentor.

 

"It is very important for me," Cueto said. "That's my personality. Even here at the highest level, I try to work with the guys, try to teach them. I just want to share and give."

Rodolfo Martinez, a hard-throwing right-hander from the Dominican Republic, struggled miserably at Double-A Richmond this season and recently came back to Arizona to pitch for one of the Giants' Rookie League teams. Cueto talked with Martinez about pitch grips and learned that Martinez was gripping his slider like a sinker.

Martinez changed his grip and reported an immediate improvement.

Cueto said when he arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic as a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization, he would talk with fellow Latin American pitchers like Francisco Cordero and Edinson Volquez, but he never had a leader to follow.

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