Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect T.J. Zeuch allowed three hits, two runs, two walks and struck out four in four innings of relief work against the Atlanta Braves earlier this week in his MLB debut.
The Blue Jays lost that game 7-2, which dropped their record to 55-85 with 22 games remaining in their 2019 campaign, but the 24-year-old gave the fanbase something to look forward to.
Zeuch, 24, was ranked as the franchise’s 17th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline prior to being called up from triple-A. He had a 3.69 ERA with 39 strikeouts across 78 innings in 13 starts for the Buffalo Bisons in 2019.
“Once he settled down, he pitched well,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters in Atlanta when assessing Zeuch’s first appearance.
The six-foot-seven righty is known primarily for his sinker and breaking balls, but also has a changeup in his arsenal that he’d like to improve.
“I’ve learned a lot this year in triple-A on the kinds of pitches I need to throw and where I need to throw them in order to be successful with the stuff that I have,” Zeuch said Thursday during an appearance on Baseball Central on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
“I think a changeup, especially, is one of those pitches where you just have to have confidence in it and throwing it like a fastball, because I get into trouble with it when I start babying it, I start trying to make it too good a pitch and that’s when usually I end up throwing over the middle of the plate or hanging it and then it gets banged out of the park for a home run,” he added.
Despite the pressure of having family come down to watch his debut live, the Mason, Ohio native didn’t appear overwhelmed by the setting.
“I got a good tip from our catcher Beau Taylor before the game started,” Zeuch added. “He said, ‘Just take a second at some point, kinda look around, take it all in,’ because obviously it’s a very cool moment in my life, so I did that pre-game while I was playing catch.”
Zeuch said having Taylor as his catcher helped him relax in his first game thanks to their familiarity with one another from their time in Buffalo. Taylor even caught the mid-August no-hitter Zeuch threw with the Bisons.
It’s unclear exactly when Zeuch will make his next appearance on the mound for a Blue Jays team that begins a four-game road series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday before heading home for back-to-back three-game series against the Boston Red Sox then New York Yankees.