Jesús Maris Yépez Alvarez
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 180 lb.
Jesús Yépez pitched in the minors, in Italy and for the Venezuelan national team.
Yépez signed with the Chicago Cubs at age 17. He debuted as a pro with the 2002 Puerto Cabello club, posting a 1-1, 2.94 record. In 2003, he was 1-1 with a 2.04 ERA for the DSL Cubs. The next season, the left-hander had a 1-2, 3.66 record for the AZL Cubs. He finished 8th in the Arizona League in ERA.
Jesús spent 2005 with the Boise Hawks, where he was 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA. He wound up his US career in 2006 with the Peoria Chiefs, going 5-6 with a 4.30 ERA. He paced the Midwest League with five balks.
In the 2007 Pan American Games, the Barquisimeto native allowed 3 runs (all unearned) in 4 1/3 innings with 4 walks, 2 hits and two strikeouts for Venezuela. He was 0-1 in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, losing to South Korea despite allowing only one run in 5 1/3 IP. His 1.08 ERA led the Venezuelan staff and his 7 strikeouts (in 8 1/3 IP) ranked second on the squad.
He helped Venezuela take the Gold at the 2010 South American Games. He was also with Venezuela for the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, rocked for 4 walks, 4 hit sand 2 runs in 2 2/3 IP in a no-decision against Puerto Rico (Venezuela lost) then turning in a superb outing against Nicaragua and Julio Raudez, each starter tossing six shutout innings before Yépez allowed a run in the 7th to lose and cost Venezuela a spot in the semifinals. In the 2010 Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, he represented his homeland for the third time in 2010 and the fifth time in four years. He was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA for the third-place team, striking out 14 but walking 13 in 17 innings. He beat Team Canada and tied Mike Montgomery for fifth in the event in strikeouts.
Jesús had a 1.83 ERA for the Rangers Redipuglia in the Italian minor leagues in 2011. He had three no-decisions of widely varying quality and a 4.85 ERA in the 2011 Baseball World Cup, not nearly as sharp as in the 2007 edition. He started excellently against South Korea (2 H, 0 R 5 in IP) but left after Hae-min Park and Jong-wook Ko opened the 6th with singles; reliever George Delgado blew the lead though Venezuela rallied for a 5-4 win. Against the German national team, he was horrendous, shelled for 7 hits and 5 runs (3 earned) in 2 innings. In the first, Max Kepler and Dominik Wulf opened with singles (with a Saúl Torres error on the latter play), Chris Howard hit into a run-scoring force, Donald Lutz had a RBI single, Juan Fuentes had a passed ball and Yépez balked home a run. In the second, singles by Kepler, Wulf, Howard and Lutz and another Torres error led to two more runs. He was succeeded by Juan Colmenarez, who was much sharper, and Venezuela came back for a 10-5 win. In his third start, against Team USA, he held the strong American contingent to one run in innings and led 4-1 going into the 7th. He opened the 7th by walking Jordan Danks but Luis Sojo replaced him with closer Gabriel Alfaro, who blew it, as the US came back for 6 runs that frame. His 4.85 ERA for the tournament was second on the squad behind Jhonny Caraballo. He was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in the 2011 Pan American Games, beating Puerto Rico for the lone Venezuelan win in four contests.
Back in Italy in 2012, he had a 1.30 ERA for the Rangers, fourth-best in Italy's top minor league. He got his change at the Italian Baseball League in 2013 with the Black Panthers Ronchi, going 5-6 with a save and a 3.72 ERA but 125 strikeouts in 84 2/3 IP (though he also walked 47). He was third in the IBL in whiffs behind Jose Sanchez and Tiago Da Silva, tied for 6th in losses and 4th in walks.