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Zeuch Delivers Enticing Profile For Blue Jays

TORONTO—The Blue Jays covet size, clean deliveries and good fastball command in their pitchers, and 6-foot-7 Pittsburgh righthander T.J. Zeuch, their first-round pick, delivers on all fronts.

“He's a good-sized kid. He's athletic. He gets lots of groundballs,” scouting director Brian Parker said. “He has a good fastball, and that’s probably his best trait right now . . . There are a lot of things to like with him. With his projection, with his age, there’s some upside with this guy.”

The draft for the Blue Jays was the first conducted under new president and CEO Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins, but in selecting Zeuch at No. 21 they stayed true to recent patterns, taking a college pitcher with their first pick for a third straight year. While the team has prioritized arms in recent years, Parker noted that “he was the best guy left on our board.”

Though Zeuch (pronounced ZOIK) was sidelined for part of the season by a groin injury, the 20-year-old impressed at Pitt by going 6-1, 3.10 with  74 strikeouts in 70 innings. The downtime from a relatively minor injury left him frustrated, given the stakes in his draft year, but all that was a distant memory once the Blue Jays picked him.

“I’m feeling very excited,” Zeuch said. “My first initial feeling just (hearing) my name was a bit of relief. I’ve been working at this since I was 5 years old throwing a baseball for the first time. I fell in love with the game then, and I knew this is what I wanted to do. Getting the opportunity to play professionally is a dream come true.”

The Blue Jays watched Zeuch in the Cape Cod League last summer and have followed him since, with part of the attraction being able to get a college pitcher with good command in the bottom third of the first round.

Asked to describe himself as a pitcher, Zeuch delivered the following scouting report: “Big long frame. My best pitch is my two-seam fastball in the 93-95 (mph) range, and then I go curveball, slider and changeup. I like to work off my fastball and set up guys for a curveball or a slider to get a strikeout.”

He made strides this past season with his curveball, a weak offering at Mason (Ohio) High, when he was drafted in the 31st round by the Royals. Despite a tempting offer to sign, he didn’t feel ready for pro ball and matured during his time at Pitt.

Zeuch said he’d be forever grateful to the Blue Jays for selecting him, and Parker didn’t anticipate any issues getting his name on a contract. “We don’t see any problems with that, but we’ll let that settle here until the draft’s over.”


• With the 57th pick, a compensatory selection in the second round for failing to sign second-rounder Brady Singer last year, the Blue Jays selected toolsy Mississippi center fielder J.B. Woodman.


T.J. Zeuch Works On Specific Things At The Alt Site

The fate of the minor leagues may be in question, but the Blue Jays embrace many aspects of player development that transpire at the complexes.

•  At pick No. 66 in the second round, the Blue Jays chose St. Petersburg, Fla., high school shortstop Bo Bichette, an Arizona State commit who is the son of former big league slugger Dante Bichette and brother of Yankees prospect Dante Jr.

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