Who doesn't love the long armed pitcher? The guy who releases it like seven feet in the air and like 30 feet from the plate? Hitters.
That's what scouts drool over with these tall and long levered pitchers. And that's what T.J. Zeuch is. Here's the thing though. Studies have shown that a higher release point has minimal impact on batted balls. Comparing two pitcher with all else being the exact same, sure you take the longer one with the higher release point. Rarely is that the case.
That said, release point distance from the plate does have an impact in perceived velocity. And, when you already can hit 96-97 mph, like Zeuch can, it's a very difficult pitch.
Yes, Zeuch hits 96-97. But, reality is that he sits 92-94 with the fastball which is above average in it's own right. But, what really makes his fastball a beast is that it really bores into the right-handed hitters and is quite heavy.
He also has both a slider and curve. The curve has good 12-6 break and the slider is an upper-80's offering that misses bats. Both have flashed plus potential, but are merely flashes and most likely to be average or slightly above-average pitches. There's also a rare changeup in his pocket that need a lot of work. He hasn't needed in college so more use could make it a better pitch as he gets the feel for it.
Mechanically he doesn't do anything that screams red flags. He's fairly solid and controlled which is a bit of surprise given his length. He gets good use of the legs but could rotate better into his finish.
But, it serves him well as he controls the ball with a 2.45 BB/9. He uses his stuff for solid strikeouts at 9.56 SO/9. This year he had a 3.10 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP.
With at least two breaking balls that could end up being fringe average and a very good fastball, it's hard not to see this guy at least making it as a back of the rotation starter.
A four-pitch mix with at least average off-speed plus a mean fastball. He's still growing into his really long frame so there's still some projection in him to improve things in his mechanics and commanding pitches. Plus good decent command, a number two is a real high ceiling with number 3 more likely.
FUTURE: When asked if he thinks about the draft, Zeuch replied, "I ignore it. I mean, you hear things all the time, but no one knows what will happen until draft day." He’s right, but the uncertainty won’t last much longer. Zeuch was head to head with first round project Connor Jones of Virginia when I saw him. Based on pure stuff, I think Zeuch has a higher ceiling than Jones, though he’s not as polished. That shouldn’t be terribly surprising since Jones was a first round candidate out of high school who pitched in Omaha last season. Zeuch has an electric arm and the makings of at least 3 average or better pitches. Climbing up industry draft boards of late, Zeuch could be a first rounder in June.
Zeuch has a four-pitch mix, all thrown with steep angle from his 6-foot-7 frame that could add more strength. He uses a relatively easy delivery to fire fastballs that have touched 96-97 mph since his return. He'll sit in the 92-94 mph range and his fastball has good run and sink to it. Zeuch will use both a slider and a curve effectively, with his breaking stuff occasionally flashing plus. He tinkers with a changeup in the bullpen, but doesn't have a ton of feel for it and doesn't use it much in games. He throws strikes with all of his offerings.