Zach Logue won three of four decisions with a 1.75 earned run average for the C’s in 2017.
Zach Logue—the winning pitcher of the Northwest League championship clincher—is the guest of honour in the latest chapter of C’s Chat. The Vancouver Canadians left- hander was drafted in the ninth round of the 2017 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays after a three-year college career with the Kentucky Wildcats. The 21 year-old from Cincinnati helped the Wildcats win their NCAA regional as the host team for the first time in school history to advance to the super regional, just one step away from reaching the College World Series.
Logue shared his recollections on a memorable 2017 in Lexington.
“As a team, we had amazing success. That was the first time in school history that Kentucky had actually won a regional. Being able to host was probably one of the cooler experiences that I had as a baseball player. Kentucky fans are crazy, I don’t know if you have heard, especially for basketball but to see the fan support we had for baseball during the regional was awesome.
Personally, I had a decent amount of success. My first half of the season was really good. I had some struggles in the second half of the season but as a team, I was just really happy we were able to kind of do something that’s never been done before at UK.”
On being tabbed the number two/Saturday starter for the Wildcats in 2017.
“That was definitely my goal going into last season was to be on the weekend rotation. It was awesome because we had Sean Hjelle who is a huge guy. He’s 6-11 , going on Fridays and then me being a lefty was a good (pairing), mixing it up a little bit I thought.
It was really fun being a weekend guy. You got to go out there every Saturday against all the SEC teams. You got to start in the all the cool stadiums that we played in so that was a lot of fun.”
On seeing seven of his Wildcat teammates being taken in the 2017 draft.
“I was looking forward to playing Evan (Evan White – Seattle’s first round pick in 2017) but he got injured before we were able to play (Everett). It’s really nice to see all the guys, you’re around them every single day. You see all the hard work that these guys put in and obviously being drafted and being able to play pro baseball is a dream for pretty much everybody that plays in college. Being able to see everybody kind of achieve that dream and have success at the next level is awesome.”
On his brother Seth, a righthanded pitcher, committing to Kentucky and the future of the Wildcats program.
“I think the Kentucky baseball program is in a great position right now. They got a new stadium coming. I love the new coaching staff. At first, I wasn’t sure at first if (Seth) was going to give Kentucky a look because of me being his older brother, I thought he really wouldn’t want to go there but I think once he went to campus, met the coaches and kind of saw what the baseball program was all about, he eventually decided that that was the place for him and I couldn’t be more happy for him.”
On when he first became a pitcher.
“I really kind of pitched my entire life but I didn’t start taking it seriously and kind of really start focusing on it until I was probably a junior in high school. I never really threw very hard when I was younger but I started weight lifting and doing some weighted ball stuff as a junior so I started throwing a little harder and that’s when I kind of realized that I might have a future as a pitcher and just kind of ran with it from there.”
On playing in summer college ball with the Amsterdam Mohawks and winning the Perfect Game Collegiate League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2015.
“It was awesome. I had a great time up in Amsterdam, we were in the Perfect Game League. I was actually up there with my teammate Riley Mahan. It was fun to be up there with him. The summer college baseball experience was awesome because you get to hang out with a bunch of guys from different schools and even some guys you might have played against during the school season.
That award meant a lot to me. It was nice to have some of my success recognized and from there, I kind realized that I might have a future and that kind of motivated me to really try to get better and show the guys at school that that award was legitimate.”
On who has helped him develop as a pitcher.
“I have a pitching coach back here (in Mason, Ohio). His name is Mike Mondrell. He’s the one that kind of helped me get stronger and use the weighted ball program and he really worked on my mechanics in high school.
Our head coach in my freshman and sophomore year at Kentucky, Gary Henderson, also helped me a lot. He was a big help for me in my mental game. He helped me really learn how to focus and really learn how to develop a plan.
In my junior year, we got a new coaching staff. The pitching coach’s name is Jim Belanger. I love Coach Belanger, he’s probably one of my favourite coaches I’ve ever had. He helped me develop a slider that I took that year and took it to pro ball. He just helped me a lot as well.”
On his pitching arsenal.
“I throw a fastball, a two-seam and a four-seam; a changeup and a slider. Right now, my main focus is to work on my changeup because I feel pretty good with my four-seam, two-seam and my slider but my changeup has been a little inconsistent this past year so that’s the main thing I’ve working on right now. In the future, I’d like to throw a cutter in there too. I think having something hard that can go in towards a righty would really help me out.”
“I used to throw a curveball in high school. I just never got a good feel for it and even in college, I was never really consistent with it so this past year, my coach Jim Belanger taught me the slider and it has made a lot of difference for me.”
On his pitching style.
“I think I would compare myself a little bit to a Jon Lester. He’s a big strike thrower. You can tell that he really, really competes out there on the mound. I think he throws a cutter, which I don’t, but I think other than that, our pitch repertoire is fairly similar.
I like to pride myself on being a strike thrower, a guy that’s going to force contact, someone that doesn’t walk guys very much and someone that will really compete every time I go out there on the mound.“
Zach Logue struck out 28 batters over 25-2/3 innings with a WHIP of 0.97.
On his draft day experience.
“It was kind of a long day because you hear where you might go. I’m sure other people can attest, that it doesn’t always go exactly how you think it’s going to. I was hearing like middle-to-late second day (of the draft), which is rounds three through 10, so I was hearing middle-to-late.
Looking at the draft board, I hadn’t gone in the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh rounds and finally, in the ninth round, my agent texted me and said, ‘Hey, there’s a good chance you going to go with the Blue Jays here in like two picks.’ So we turned on the TV real quick and saw my name pop up and my family let out a big cheer and stuff like that. It was awesome.
I didn’t really have an idea that it was going to be the Blue Jays (who would take me). I had met with Nate Murray, who’s my area scout with the Blue Jays a couple of times in the fall but I really didn’t have an idea it was going to be with the Blue Jays.”
On the lead-up to the start of his pro career.
“It was a quick turnaround to be honest. I got drafted on a Tuesday and we had to report down in Dunedin for a little mini-camp on the Friday. We had a little get-together with my family and friends the day after I got drafted and then left and went to Florida. We had the two- or three-day mini camp and then from there, I went up to Bluefield and it was really fun to start the season up there.”
On beginning his pro career in Bluefield under long-time manager Dennis Holmberg.
“It was awesome. Dennis is an extremely knowledgeable baseball guy. I think it was a great stop for me in my pro career. I was kind of able to get my feet wet and find a bit of a routine that worked for me and kind of just get used to what pro ball is like.”
On receiving his first promotion as a pro.
“I was actually in the locker room. I think it was after BP, right before a game and I had no idea that it was going to happen. (The coaches) called a team meeting and I was sitting there with the rest of the team when they told everybody that I was going to move up to Vancouver. That was an awesome feeling to be promoted so quickly and I’m really glad I did because I had a great time in Vancouver.”
On making his C’s debut at Nat Bailey Stadium vs. Spokane July 14 when he struck out five in two innings.
“I definitely remember being a little bit nervous. It was a day game against Spokane and, you know, you walk out and to be honest, the difference in the atmosphere from Bluefield to Vancouver is pretty drastic. The crowds in Vancouver are huge and the crowd was buzzing after getting into the game. I was definitely a little nervous but once I got the first couple of outs, I was able to settle in and have a little bit of success.
I remember coming out of the game and sitting on the bench outside of the dugout and seeing us come back and win (in 12 innings) , that was really exciting. It was definitely a good first experience in Vancouver.”
Being a part of the C’s first-half division championship.
“I remember when I got up there, I think we were about halfway through the first half of the season and we’re already in first place. I really didn’t have to help them with that at all. I think it was really important for us to win the first half and secure that playoff spot because you never know what’s really going to happen in the second half. It was awesome to get to celebrate with the guys in Salem-Keizer when we actually clinched. It was awesome to win the first half and then go on to win the championship.”
On being a tandem starter with Justin Dillon.
“I started at Kentucky but my first two years and even in summer ball after my sophomore year up in the Cape, I did a little bit of relieving. I had done that before but it is a little bit different when you’re used to starting because you come in in the first inning and the game is all yours, it’s zero-zero and you can kind of take control from there.
But I remember one particular start when I came in and we were up by 10 already and at that point, it’s a little bit more difficult to keep your focus because you’re not in the flow of the game quite yet. You got the 10-run lead so you kind of got to focus in immediately.
I think that’s probably the biggest difference in starting and relieving is when you relieve, you got to be good right away. You don’t have any time to kind of get in the flow of things.”
Zach Logue had an ERA of 0.64 when he pitched in relief for the C’s in 2017.
On starting versus relieving.
“I definitely prefer starting. I like to know when I’m going to pitch. I like to have control of the game.”
On being the winning pitcher and wearing Montreal Expos-style uniforms on Tim Raines Night at Nat Bailey Stadium August 22.
“That was really cool. I thought those uniforms looked awesome. We had Tim Raines in and out of the clubhouse a couple of times throughout the season and to just be around a player of his caliber, a Hall of Famer, was really something special. I think you could really feel that on the night we honoured him.
I was glad to be able to pitch that night and get to pitch in those cool jerseys and to be able to honour him with the win, that was a great experience.”
On pitching four shutout innings in Game 2 of the North Division final against Spokane.
“I remember when we were actually in Spokane before the first game was supposed to be played. When you went outside, you could barely see or even breathe. I’m glad we actually ended up actually playing in Vancouver for that reason as well for the home field advantage.
I remember coming in that game and it’s a night game and the playoff buzz was definitely going on. We had won Game 1 so me and Justin (Dillon) knew that we had the shot to put us in the championship so we were really just trying to win it to get to the next round of games that we could play. “
On giving up a homer to Michael Cruz, the first batter he faced against Eugene in Game 4 of the league final.
“I just tried to kind of put that behind me as quickly as possible. I think I threw a 3-1 fastball right down the middle and he definitely beat me and to hit it out at that place (over the big wall in right field), you got to really get it so it was a legit home run. I tried to hit it behind me as quick as possible.
I knew that our offence, we were clicking really well. We were getting an incredible amount of timely hits so I knew if I could limit them to just one run, then I would give our offence a chance to win the game and obviously they did.”
On Noberto Obeso throwing out the Emeralds’ Jose Gonzalez at the plate from left field in the fifth inning.
“That was incredible. Whenever you see a guy running towards the plate, it kind of disappoints you a little bit because you feel like you’re going to give up a run but when your outfielders help you with an out on the bases or at the plate or whatever, it really kind of motivates you to help them out right back. You want to retire the next guy and get those guys back in the dugout so they can carry the momentum at the plate.”
On getting to pitch with a lead in the sixth inning.
“(We) scored the two runs in the one inning to take the lead and one of our big things that we really tried to do was achieve the shutout inning, the shutdown inning so after we scored, you have to go out and put up a zero. I felt like if I was able to do that, then we would have a lot of momentum and really be able to close it out so I’m glad I was able to put up that zero.”
Zach Logue allowed just one run and struck out eight over seven playoff innings.
On being the winning pitcher in the clincher and celebrating the Northwest League title.
“It was great to get the win. A lot of that was kind of luck just because I gave up the one run and our offence kind of picked me up a little bit. I came in after Justin and I kind of felt bad. We always talked about we kind of felt bad for the person that started because they kind of traditionally get the win but the guy that comes in after him is the one that ends up with the actual stat but yeah, it was awesome to get the win.
I just remember I felt like we were going to win when Will (William Ouellette) came in that game and we just a had feeling that he was going to get that last out and when he did, it was a great feeling. We hadn’t been there since spring training but we had been together for a while and worked really hard for this. To see all that hard work come to fruition was awesome.”
On taking part in instructional league.
“Instructional league was great. There’s a lot of different guys in the organization that are there that I hadn’t met before so it was nice to meet a bunch of the different guys and also meet a bunch of the different coaches. It’s good to have them get their eyes on you and it’s also good for me to ask them questions, ask them if they see anything that can help me. Obviously a lot of the guys that are down there had some big major league careers, had some really great accomplishments in the big leagues so anytime you can ask those guys questions and get any tips is really good.”
On sharing the same hometown (Mason, Ohio) as 2016 C’s pitcher and Blue Jays first round pick T.J. Zeuch.
“We actually played against each other quite a bit when we were younger. There were a couple of teams from Mason, this was probably when we were in third or fourth grade and he’s a year above me but we played against each other a decent amount when we were little.”
On playing at historic Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati.
“Ken Griffey Jr. played there, Barry Larkin played there, Buddy Bell played there so there’s a really big baseball history at Moeller High School. Even in my class, we had several guys go on to college. Riley Mahan, I went to Kentucky with him and he also got drafted this past year so it was really cool to kind of see the history that goes along with Moeller High School and be a part of that a little bit.”
On his off-season activities.
“I’ve really just been working on getting stronger, working on my hip and shoulder mobility and just recently, we started throwing. My priority has been to work on my changeup because I think that’s something I could really propel me to the next level so I think that those are probably the main priorities I’ve been focusing on.”
On his expectations for 2018.
“I’m expecting to be on a full-season team but obviously, it’s not my decision to make so I’m just kind of going to take whatever comes to me and roll with it and just try to have some success and get better along the way.”
My thanks again to Zach Logue for taking the ball in this edition of C’s Chat.