Robert Zarate

Born: February 1, 1987
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 200
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Signed: Int’l free agent, 2005 (Blue Jays)
How Acquired: Minor league free agent
Country: Venezuela
Agent: N/A


Zarate is largely a mystery, as the timeline below shows.  He originally signed out of Venezuela with the Jays, but in four years failed to get past rookie ball.  After that, he appears to have pitched mainly in the minors in Japan.  At least he did so in 2011-13.  He put up good numbers, but got only a few innings in the Japanese majors out of it.  One report at the time had him throwing a 92-93 mph fastball, a slider and a change.  (Thanks to Bucs Dugout posters thinwhiteduke and Brian Cartwright.)  Zarate finally returned to organized ball in the Americas with the Rays in 2015, when he had a very successful half season in AAA.  The Pirates signed him to a minor league deal for 2016.

DSL:  1-0-2, 2.20 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 8.8 K/9

Zarate debuted at age 18 in the DSL, pitching very well in 13 relief appearances.

DSL:  1-0-0, 2.37 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 19.0 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

The Jays sent Zarate back to the DSL and he again got into 13 games, two of them starts.

A:  1-3-0, 2.54 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 46.0 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 11.4 K/9

The Jays sent Zarate back to the DSL again, although he was 20 by then.  He pitched reasonably well in eight starts, striking out a lot of hitters, although he was helped by nearly half the runs he allowed being unearned.  He gave up 51 hits in 46 innings.

R:  0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 2.0 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 4.5 K/9

Zarate finally got to the GCL, but he made only two brief appearances, then was released the following April.


Zarate spent at least some of his time during these years, as well as the following three years, with Japanese independent or minor league teams.  He signed with the Marlins for the 2010 season, but was released without having pitched for them.

JAPAN:  0-0-0, 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP, 2.0 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 9.00 K/9

Zarate got into two games with Hanshin of Japan’s Central League.

JAPAN:  0-0-0, 5.40 ERA, 2.40 WHIP, 1.2 IP, 10.8 BB/9, 5.4 K/9

Zarate again got into two games with Hanshin.


I don’t know where Zarate was this year, except that he pitched in Venezuelan winter ball.

A+:  0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 2.0 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
AAA:  2-1-2, 2.90 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 40.1 IP, 3.3 BB/9, 10.9 K/9

The Rays signed Zarate for 2015.  They sent him to high A for a one-game tuneup in June and he spent the rest of the season in AAA, making five starts and a dozen relief appearances.  He pitched very well, fanning well over a batter an inning and holding opponents to a 191/281/250 line.  He pitched equally well as a starter and reliever, and allowed left-handed hitters an OPS of just .355 (in a small sample size).

Zarate was one of the more interesting relievers the Pirates brought to camp in 2016.  Unfortunately, he had elbow soreness at the start of the spring and was only getting back into action near the end of camp.  He’ll head to Indianapolis once he’s ready.  Zarate will play 2016 at age 29.

2016: Minor league contract
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut:
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
January 26, 2005: Signed by the Toronto Blue Jays as an international free agent.
April 15, 2009:
Released by the Toronto Blue Jays.
December 16, 2009: Signed by the Florida Marlins as a minor league free agent.
May 4, 2010: Released by the Florida Marlins.
January 21, 2015: Signed by the Tampa Bay Rays as a minor league free agent.
November 6, 2015: Became a free agent.
December 7, 2015: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.