The 24-year-old pitched in both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Royals organizations last season making 35 appearances (10 starts). He went 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA and had 89 strikeouts over 91 1/3 innings.
“He’s a big arm, 24-year-old kid, can touch triple digits, can flash, at times, a plus slider, but it’s a bit of a project,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He’s a little inconsistent with his delivery, at times doesn’t quite know where it’s going and it’s just a matter of trying to clean up a few things.”
To make room on the 40-man roster, infielder Jake Elmore was designated for assignment. It isn’t likely that Elmore would make it through the waivers process so the expectation is that he will be traded in the next week to 10 days.
Cleto, who was originally signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic by the New York Mets in 2006, will wear uniform No. 39. He is expected in camp on Thursday.
Last season while playing at Triple-A Memphis in the Cardinals organization Cleto was suspended three games for his role in an on-field brawl against Triple-A Albuquerque. A total of 10 players received suspensions. Cleto started the game, allowing eight walks.
“You don’t know about a guy’s makeup for sure until you have him day in and day out, but our guys do a good job on background best they can when you’re evaluating somebody from another organization,” Hahn said. “We certainly don’t, at this time, have any concerns about that.”