Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been waiting for a call up for TJ Zeuch and they finally got to see him close up
The Blue Jays youth movement continues.
It’s early September. MiLB regular seasons have ended. MLB teams can expand and bring up anyone (or everyone) on their 40 man roster if they choose to do so. It’s an opportunity to fortify the big club’s roster and get a look at young talent for the future.
Among the Jays call ups to date, T.J. Zeuch was added to the roster and made his MLB debut.
6’7” Zeuch was drafted in the 1st round of the 2016 June amateur draft, 21st overall. He has pitched well overall in 4 minor league seasons, with a 3.52 era. He has also played on winning teams. He was part of the 2017 A+ ball Dunedin Blue Jays that won the Florida state league’s co-championship. Later in 2017 he played in the Arizona Fall league on the championship Peoria Javelinas. In 2018 he was part of the Eastern league champion New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Championships aside, one of the highlights of Zeuch’s career as an individual to date came on August 19, 2019 when he pitched a no hitter. Having missed the early part of the season with a lat injury, Zeuch pitched in two rehab games with Dunedin before being assigned to AAA Buffalo. It had to feel good for him to be healthy, return to action, and have that kind of success.
In terms of tools, Zeuch has an above average fastball, which is 60 grade per fangraphs. He also throws a curveball, changeup and slider, with the curve being his second best pitch.
The other above average thing about Zeuch is his pitch command. 2.9 BB/9 is considered average for a pitcher and less is definitely more. Zeuch’s MiLB career BB/9 is 2.6. He has had 2.7 or fewer BB/9 at every level until hitting AAA this season. There, his walks were elevated at 3.7/9. This may be due, at least in part, to rust from the long layoff.
Zeuch entered the game in Atlanta in the second inning, after opener Wilmer Font got hit around. The Jays were lucky to only be losing 2-0 at that point.
Zeuch had a tough test in his first game in the majors, facing first place Atlanta. He pitched reasonably well overall. He held Atlanta off the scoreboard for his first three innings before getting in to trouble in the sixth. A bout of uncharacteristic wildness saw him walk Acuna and Freeman who each moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Former league MVP Josh Donaldson doubled to drive them both in.
Zeuch’s final line read 4 innings, 2 runs on 3 hits with 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. He threw 41 of his 73 total pitches for strikes and got 5 ground outs versus just 1 fly out.
Down 4-0 in the 6th with the pitcher’s spot up in the batting order, Billy McKinney pinch hit in the NL park, ending Zeuch’s night. Maybe next time out he will go deeper in to the game.
Getting this MLB experience under his belt in September will be invaluable for Zeuch and for the Jays to be able to evaluate the 23 year old prospect as they assemble a pitching staff to help them contend in the future.
With the time missed due to injury, Zeuch has only pitched 90.2 innings so far in 2019 between MLB and the minors, whereas in 2018 he pitched 156.1. Assuming he stays healthy, the Jays should give him a few more outings in September. Depending, in part, on how he performs, he should at least be in the conversation for a job with the Blue Jays in 2020.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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