As our top prospects countdown continues here at Jays Journal, today we look at T.J. Zeuch, a starting pitching who ranks #15 on our list.
Because of the high-end talent in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system, sometimes you don’t hear a whole lot about the pitching prospects. That’s not because of a lack of talent.
One of those underrated arms belongs to T.J. Zeuch, who spent last season between High-A and Double-A and made 27 starts. He was quietly very good as well, finishing with a record of 12-8, with a 3.17 ERA across 156.1 innings pitched.
Name: T.J. Zeuch
Position: SP Age: 23
Height: 6’7” Weight: 225 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: Selected by the Blue Jays in the first round of the 2016 amateur draft.
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Standing at 6’7, Zeuch is an imposing figure on the mound even before he lets go of the ball.
The fastball is his best offering at this stage, and it’s rated as a 60/60 according to Fangraphs Tools Rating system. While it’s considered his only ‘plus’ offering at this point, it’s the most important tool in the chest for pitchers, especially starters, and a good building block for the lack right-hander.
His slider isn’t considered to be as good of a weapon, as Fangraphs rates it at just 40/45, meaning it’s a little below average.
It is a developing pitch and with Zeuch’s build there’s a good chance he can eventually turn it into a weapon, but for now there’s definitely work to be done.
His curveball is further along and is rating as a 50/55. The hook isn’t used in the modern MLB game as much as it has been in the past, but there are enough successful exceptions that it’s hardly a pitch to abandon, especially as it’s further developed than his other off-speed offerings.
Last but not least, Fangraphs has Zeuch’s change-up coming in as a 45/50, meaning that it’s useful, but not something to be feared by any means. He’ll need to continue to develop the pitch as he progresses through the minor leagues and hopefully eventually to Toronto, especially if he’s going to remain as a starter.
Zeuch’s command tool is one of his better assets, especially when he’s working off of his fastball. In those 156.1 innings pitched last season he issued just 40 walks against 105 strikeouts, finishing with a BB/9 of 2.3, which is pretty much in line with his career norms.
What kind of big leaguer is Zeuch going to turn out to be? It’s hard to say at this point, but Fangraphs has him slated as a 40 coming in to this season. According to their chart that means that he’s a Swing/Spot starter, with a chance to be a little more.
I’m bias to be sure, but I think he could be a useful starter at some point, maybe even as soon as later on in the 2019 campaign. He might not ever become a top of the rotation arm, but starting pitching has value wherever it lines up.