The Blue Jays have made their first selection in the draft, and it’s 6’7″ right-hander T.J. Zeuch (pronounced: zoyk) out of Pitt.
I’ll go a little bit deeper on him shortly, but for now here’s what I can tell you: he throws in the low-to-mid 90s, has nice downhill plane, and four pitches, though the breaking stuff has been a little inconsistent (at least according to the guys on the MLB Network’s draft show, who note that sometimes it looks good, other times not so much). He’s a starter, obviously, but could be a power reliever if his big upside — which is a word used on the telecast, and by Jays scouting director Brian Parker in comments from a Ben Nicholson-Smith piece at Sportsnet — doesn’t pan out.
Jeff Blair tweets that the Jays were surprised that Zeuch was still available for them, as they had him quite a bit higher on their draft board than this. (Which is a joke? Because that’s what everyone always says? Ohhhh.) Anyway, I guess we’ll see… eventually…
Here’s MLB.com’s video on him:
In his capsule at MLB.com, “Big Zed” is described as being a name with a lot of helium, as he had a strong showing in the Cape Cod league last summer and has been rising up draft boards the more that teams have had a chance to look at him (which wasn’t easy early in the college season, as he missed a month with a g-g-groin, a g-g-groin, a g-g-groin injury). They go on:
“Zeuch has a four-pitch mix, all thrown with steep angle from his 6-foot-7 frame that could add more strength. He uses a relatively easy delivery to fire fastballs that have touched 96-97 mph since his return. He’ll sit in the 92-94 mph range and his fastball has good run and sink to it. Zeuch will use both a slider and a curve effectively, with his breaking stuff occasionally flashing plus, though it’s been inconsistent. He tinkers with a changeup in the bullpen, but doesn’t have a ton of feel for it and doesn’t use it much in games. He throws strikes with all of his offerings.”
Bluebird Banter‘s coverage describes him thusly:
He has more upside than most college pitchers, though also carries more risk and will likely require more development time. He’s also one of the younger college pitchers (won’t turn 21 until after the draft), and comes from Ohio so his arm should have less mileage. He has dealt with some injury issues, but not arm related.
Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star notes that “he was drafted out of high school by Kansas City in 2013, but didn’t sign and chose instead to attend Pitt.”
While ESPN.com notes that he has a “physical composition that resembles lots of big league starters” and that “his delivery is so simple, direct and efficient that he throws strikes more regularly than a pitcher his size typically does.”
However, on the down side of things, they also tell us that he “will have to find a way to get lefties out in pro ball, whether it is developing a changeup or more advanced slider usage, because he has no real way of dealing with left-handed hitters right now.” (Hence the longer-than-usual development timeline for a college guy, one assumes).
John Sickels has a piece on him over at Minor League Ball, in which we find this clip of an interview of him (which I didn’t watch — because athlete interviews — but it might be interesting if that’s your bag!
Hey! So T.J. Zeuch! Where the ligament-replacement headlines write themselves!