T.J. Zeuch has struck out 42 batters and walked 14 over 53 innings with the Dunedin Blue Jays.
T.J. Zeuch is “right where he should be as far as where his development is”. Dunedin manager John Schneider made that comment about the Blue Jays first-round pick of 2016 to Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling on the At The Letters podcast.
Zeuch had a tough go of it during a May 22 start against the Fort Myers Miracle when he surrendered eight runs (four earned) on nine hits (including a home run) and two walks. The 2016 Vancouver Canadian struck out five and induced eight groundball outs.
Schneider pointed out his pitching line wasn’t as bad as it appeared.
“(Fort Myers) were kind of dinking and dunking, things through the infield. A couple of balls that got lost in the sun, a couple of them by (Josh) Donaldson actually, we were laughing about that.”
Zeuch bounced back in his next start May 27 against the host Lakeland Tigers, tossing six innings of two-run ball on four hits, three walks and a hit by pitch. One of the runs was unearned. The 6-foot-7 righthander struck out five and kept his infielders on their toes with 10 groundball outs but wound up taking the loss. That dropped his record to 3-3 on the season.
Schneider says Zeuch is continuing to work on his pitch sequencing and his secondary pitches.
“He’s working on some things as far as pitching usage, when to use his stuff. He’s got great stuff, great downhill angle and gets a ton of groundballs with his fastball just because of how tall he is and the sink he can get on it. His best breaking ball is a curveball. It’s a pretty true 12-6 with good downward bite he can use as a put-away pitch.
He’s been trying to incorporate his slider to right-handed hitters to try to get some quick contact and then of course, his changeup. If you can harness those things, especially a changeup as a starting pitcher and kind of turn the lineup over a few times, now we’re talking. It’s just really a combination of developing the actual pitch, both the slider and the changeup, and when to use it in games.”
The big thing that jumps out on Zeuch’s stat line so far is his groundball stats, namely a groundball rate of just over 61 percent and a groundout/airout ratio is 3:1. His infielders have also caught their share of popups with an infield pop-up rate of nearly 19 percent. One concerning trend is the former Pittsburgh Panther is getting hit harder by surrendering line drives just over 19 percent of the time.
Zeuch has not put up big strikeout numbers with a rate of just over seven over nine innings but his walk rate is just above two. His earned run average is 3.23 while his FIP (fielding independent pitching) is just 10 points higher.
Zeuch had a great month of April by posting a 1.62 ERA in April but it more than doubled in May with a 3.96 mark. If his last start is any indication, Zeuch should enjoy a better month of June as he takes aim at a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire.