Former Pitt pitcher T.J. Zeuch left after his junior season with the Panthers to pursue a career in the professional ranks after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. Since then, he’s begun a steady rise through the ranks of the Blue Jays organization and is now considered the team’s No. 9 prospect, according to MLB.com.
He now finds himself pitching for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats and threw his first career shutout for the team on Saturday night. In the start, Zeuch allowed just three hits and no runs over seven innings, during which he struck out four batsmen and walked four others. The Fisher Cats went on to win, improving Zeuch’s record to 3-2 and lowering his ERA to 3.47.
#BlueJays No. 9 prospect T.J. Zeuch (@TJZeuch) pitches his first career shutout for @FisherCats. https://t.co/sJ6Wbo4k4n pic.twitter.com/nb5pIndnyR— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 3, 2018
As a whole, the Fisher Cats have played to a 34-22 record with the help of an offense that features the sons of two Hall of Famers: Cavan Biggio, the son of former Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the son of former Montreal Expos outfielder Vladimir Guerrero. They are currently the top-ranked team in the Eastern League.
During his three-year Pitt career, Zeuch pitched to a career ERA of 3.33, striking out 205 batters against 61 walked over 39 appearances, which included 33 starts. He showed improvement as his career progressed, eventually drawing the attention of MLB scouts after compiling a 1.31 ERA in four starts with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League ahead of his junior year.
Zeuch has been praised by scouts for his fastball, which ranges from 91 to 97 mph, in addition to his curve and slider, that latter of which is considered above average. His ability to induce ground balls to set up routine outs has also proved helpful, but with that said, his continued climb up the ranks is dependent on his ability to better develop his arsenal.
“The development of Zeuch’s secondary arsenal — some scouts would like to see him establish more separation between his breaking balls — as well as his ability to stay healthy will determine whether or not he reaches his ceiling of a No. 3 starter,” reads his MLB.com profile. “Should that not work out, the right-hander has undeniable upside as a high-leverage reliever who generates as many whiffs as he does weakly hit outs.”
As noted in his profile, injuries have been an off-and-on issue for Zeuch, as he was temporarily sidelined ahead of his junior season at Pitt and was limited to 65.2 innings in 2017 due to injuries as well. However, barring any chronic issues on that front, the former Pitt pitcher appears to be well positioned to continue down his path to the majors, where he could play a significant role.