Jays From the Couch continues our 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects with #8, 2016 Draft pick, TJ Zeuch
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2017. We’ve selected our Top 15 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”. To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2017 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
CHECK OUT THE BLUE JAYS PROSPECTS THAT DIDN’T QUITE MAKE OUR LIST IN OUR HONORABLE MENTIONS AS WELL AS THE REST OF OUR TOP 15
Name: Timothy James “T.J.” Zeuch
Born: August 1, 1995
Draft: 31st Round, KC Royals (2013), 1st Round, 21st Overall 2016
T.J. Zeuch was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round of the 2016 MLB Amateur draft. Selected 21st overall by the Blue Jays, the Pittsburgh University standout pitcher began his career with in July with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays before heading out to the Vancouver Canadians for the majority of the season and finishing up with the Lansing Lugnuts. He’s a big dude, standing 6’7″ on the mound and at 225 pounds, he’s likely close to growing into his ample frame.
Baseball America – 7th in Blue Jays System
Previous Rank: NA
Baseball Prospectus – 7th in Blue Jays System
Previous Rank: NA
MLB Pipeline – Currently Unranked
Check out the AL East Top 10 Prospects by team on February 20th.
Since he was just drafted in June of 2016, Zeuch hasn’t received a ton of attention as a prospect just yet. Despite his limited professional experience, both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America ranked him seventh in the newly stocked Blue Jays farm system, generally behind other pitchers Conner Greene, Sean Reid-Foley and Jonathan Harris. Zeuch spent most of 2016 with the Low-A Vancouver Canadians (23 of 34 innings), posting a solid 3.52 ERA and 22 Ks and only five free passes.
|All Levels (1 Season)||0||2||4.50||4.50||9||34.0||31||17||17||2||7||38||3||0||1||139||1.118||8.2||0.5||1.9||10.1||5.43|
Nothing much jumps out from his 2016 statistics. As expected, the college-season righty was not overwhelmed by the Low-A Northwest League, but stumbled a bit after his promotion to Lansing. His K% actually jumped at Lansing (8.6 to 15.8 K/9), but he was hit around more frequently as evidenced by a spike in WHIP from 1.13 to 1.50 – albeit over just eight innings. Remember that 2016 was his first professional season on top of a collegiate schedule and that fatigue likely set in by August.
From the video (still at Pittsburgh and without professional tutelage) you can see Zeuch leveraging his 6’7″ frame and creating some serious arm whip. While he sits in the low 90’s with his fastball, he has hit 97 before. With easily repeatable mechanics (rare for his size), he may be able to coax some more sustained velocity in time. Baseball Prospectus mentions that he sometimes suffers from “tall pitchers syndrome”, resulting in not always finishing his delivery and some spotty command.
Since he finished 2016 in Lansing, he’ll probably start there as well in 2017. While he’ll likely stick there most of the year, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him promoted to High-A Dunedin by late summer, especially if he treats his second taste of the Midwest League like he did the Northwest League. While his control is solid, his size makes it difficult to command all of his pitches, so smoothing out his mechanics should be a priority in his developmental process. In addition, 2017 should be the season where the Blue Jay evaluate his secondary pitches, which at worst, have a solid base to improve upon.
As a college pitcher, T.J. Zeuch might move quickly through the Blue Jays system. He projects as a back-end starter, but the Jays might utilize him in a relief role prior to that, possibly by 2018. They’ll have some holes to fill in the 2018-19 offseason, likely to be filled by Conner Greene, Sean Reid-Foley and Jonathan Harris first, but Zeuch isn’t too far behind. Like, Zeuchs, Scoob.
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