The 2016 1st round pick has found redemption in the desert.
Limited to all of 12 innings after a late May stint on the disabled list that stretched into the summer, T.J. Zeuch has been drawing rave reviews for his work in the Arizona Fall League. Count MLB.com’s Mike Rosenbaum, who caught him in action this month, a fan:
There’s a lot to like about Zeuch, who has a chance to be a successful big league starter based solely on his sinker, a bowling ball of a pitch that’s product of his tremendous extension towards the plate and makes him difficult to barrel for hitters on both sides of the plate (think Aaron Sanchez or a young Rick Porcello). Combine that with a slider that flashes above average and a changeup with similar potential, and the makings are there for a future No. 3 or 4 starter at the highest level.
When he locates that sinker down in the strike zone, Zeuch induces a lot of weak contact, as evidenced by his 61.5% ground ball rate this year.
Delivered from an over the top arm slot, it gets considerable downward, eye plane-changing movement.
The trick for Zeuch, of course, is to be able to consistently locate that pitch. When he doesn’t, his fastball tends to get hit when he lives up in the zone. Reports on his secondaries were not all as glowing as the one above, although they have progressed considerably since he turned pro. Their continued development will determine whether or not Zeuch reaches that mid-rotation starter projection.
Zeuch might be in line for a promotion to AA New Hampshire in 2018, but given his injury history this year, he may begin the year in Dunedin, forming a formidable 1-2 punch with 2017 1st rounder Nate Pearson. Zeuch does not profile as a front of the rotation starter, but he has the build and clean mechanics to potentially eat a fair number of innings, depending on his ability to turn over a lineup. Zeuch is not ready to compete for a major league job next spring, but if he can build on his success in Arizona next season, he could be in the mix for a rotation spot sometime in the 2019 season. If/when he reaches AA this year, we will truly have a clearer idea of his long range outlook. A small sample size of his work against elite prospects this fall suggests that he should succeed at that level.
For further viewing – a compilation of Zeuch’s Arizona work by Baseball America:
For a more detailed look at Zeuch from a May start this year, have a look here.