More was expected from Blue Jays T.J. Zeuch in 2017. Join Jays From the Couch in a review of Toronto’s minor league prospect’s 2017 season
The 2017 season was one of frustration and perseverance for the Toronto Blue Jays 2016 1st round draft pick. Zeuch started the year with the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays but found himself on the disabled list after just 9 starts.
This was not the way the season was supposed to go.
T.J. Zeuch was only expected to be in Dunedin til mid-summer before moving up to New Hampshire with a chance of finishing the season in Triple-A Buffalo.
The 21st overall pick in the 2016 draft, Zeuch’s plus fastball was graded near the top of the class thanks to its ability to hit the hi-90’s and heavy sinking action. When coupled with his 6-foot-7 frame, Zeuch generates a lot of groundballs. With an advanced feel of his FB, Zeuch was primed to carve up Florida State League hitters, which he did until landing on the disabled list on June 5th.
Those were the expectations. Time for the reality of what actually happened.
After making a one inning relief appearance to kick off his season on April 8th, the highest draft pick in Pitt history made his first start on April 15th. T.J. struck out 7 (season high) over 4 innings, allowing one hit and 2 walks. His performance earned him a game score of 65, the highest game score of his season. Zeuch would pitch into the 6th inning in each of the following 6 starts, showing the ability to go deep into games.
After allowing opponents to bat no higher than .235 in any of his 6 starts, opponents batted .261, .275, and .267 in the three starts leading up to landing on the DL. This may have been an indication of injury or an indication that FSL hitters made adjustments. I’m going with an injury.
Upon his return from the DL the tall righty was limited to 50 pitches.
Thanks to the amount of time Zeuch spent on the DL, this breakdown is an easy one.
T.J. made 4 appearances, 3 starts, pitching 16.2 innings. He finished the month with a record of 1-1 and a 1.62 ERA while posting a 0.96 WHIP and 3.01 FIP. Zeuch walked 3.24/9IP and struck out 7.02/9IP but the big number was 4.57 GO/AO.
In 6 starts the Mason, Ohio native finished with a record of 2-2 and 3.96 ERA while striking out 7.18/9IP and walking 1.98/9IP. Zeuch posted a 1.49 WHIP, 3.34 FIP, and his GO/AO went up to 2.50.
Zeuch made two rehab starts with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, a disastrous return start with the D-Jays, a return to the DL, before closing out the month with another rehab start for the GCL Blue Jays.
The former 1st rounder didn’t have a good month. In 4 starts, Zeuch posted a record of 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA over 8.2IP. Control was an issue, allowing 4.15 BB/9IP and just 6.23 K/9IP.
During his time with the Dunedin Blue Jays, T.J. Zeuch LHB hit .284 while RHB batted .264. Zeuch hit 5 batters, all RHB.
Things could have gone much better for Zeuch in 2017. He finished with a record of 3-4 with a 3.56 ERA while walking 19 and striking 51 batters over 65.2IP. T.J. posted a 3.53 FIP, a 1.36 WHIP, and .313 BABIP in 12 games in Dunedin.
With any luck, the 6-foot-7 Zeuch can put the injury riddled 2017 campaign behind him with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. When health T.J. has the making of a solid #3 starter with the ability to eat innings. Despite disappointing in 2017, MLBpipeline.com has Zeuch ranked as the Blue Jays top pitching prospect at #6 and will be expected to start the year with the Double-A Fisher Cats.
I recently wrote a piece about starting pitching being less of an issue for the Blue Jays in 2018. In that piece have T.J. Zeuch as my darkhorse. Give it a read.
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