SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Blue Jays made T.J. Zeuch the 21st overall pick in the 2016 Draft, and he demonstrated why on Friday night.Pitching for the Peoria Javelinas, Zeuch cruised through five scoreless innings in a 2-0 defeat of the Scottsdale Scorpions. He needed just 62 pitches to record 15
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Blue Jays made T.J. Zeuch the 21st overall pick in the 2016 Draft, and he demonstrated why on Friday night.
Pitching for the Peoria Javelinas, Zeuch cruised through five scoreless innings in a 2-0 defeat of the Scottsdale Scorpions. He needed just 62 pitches to record 15 outs, giving up three singles while striking out four. He's one of four Arizona Fall League pitchers with eight scoreless innings this season, joining Max Fried (Braves' No. 9 prospect), Zach Jemiola (Rockies) and Zach Lovvorn (Royals).
Zeuch worked at 92-94 mph with his fastball, keeping it off barrels with late run and sink. His 6-foot-7 frame adds good extension and downhill plane, making him tougher on batters. The Blue Jays' No. 5 prospect recorded two strikeouts each with his fastball and curveball, and he also recorded six groundouts.
"My sinker is my bread-and-butter pitch," said Zeuch, the highest-drafted pitcher ever from the University of Pittsburgh. "I was keeping it down in the zone and letting it do its work and just getting groundballs. The curveball is usually my best strikeout pitch."
The AFL gives Zeuch a chance to make up some of the innings he lost while battling back and hamstring injuries during his first full pro season. He missed all of June and July as well as part of August, logging 65 2/3 innings (mostly in high Class A) while going 3-6 with a 3.56 ERA and a 51/19 K/BB ratio.
Besides adding some needed experience, Zeuch also is working to improve his pitch selection and the consistency of his offspeed pitches, which also include a slider and changeup. Another benefit is the opportunity to face more advanced hitters than he has in the past.
"You can definitely tell the difference," Zeuch said. "You can see guys, they're looking for certain pitches and when they get it, they don't miss it. You can tell guys aren't really wrong a lot of time. People say pitching is messing with timing. Tonight, I was able to do a good job of that. You can tell these guys are very talented hitters."
The Javelinas scored the game's only runs in the eighth inning. After J.D. Davis (Blue Jays) singled and Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3) reached on an error by shortstop Blake Trahan (Reds' No. 27), Michael Chavis (Red Sox's No. 2, No. 92 overall) ripped a double down the left-field line off Kyle Regnault (Mets) to drive them both in.
The Scorpions wasted a strong start by right-hander Mickey Jannis (Mets). The knuckleballer allowed just one hit and two walks while striking out three in four scoreless innings. He hasn't surrendered a run in seven innings over two starts.
Peoria took a one-game lead in the West Division with the victory, improving its record to 6-4. Scottsdale fell to 5-5, slipping into a three-way tie for first in the East.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.