Zeuch drops in for first visit at Rogers Centre

Blue Jays' 2016 first-round Draft pick and No. 8 prospect discusses first pro season

Zeuch drops in for first visit at Rogers Centre

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays had a special visitor on Tuesday afternoon as T.J. Zeuch, the team's first-round selection in the 2016 Draft, made his first visit to Rogers Centre.

Zeuch, rated Toronto's eighth-highest prospect by MLBPipeline.com, recently completed his first professional season. Across three levels, the 6-foot-7 right-hander went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

The Pittsburgh Panthers product features a four-pitch mix, with a fastball that sits in the mid 90's, in addition to his curveball, slider and changeup. Zeuch said his focus this season was based around improving the consistency of his secondary offerings, and working on improving his changeup to complement the fastball.

Blue Jays draft RHP Zeuch No. 21

"My changeup has come a long way from where it was," Zeuch said. "That's the biggest focus for me, is getting that better. My curveball has always been my out-pitch, so just continuing to improve that, being able to throw that for strikes whenever I need to."

Toronto made Zeuch the 21st overall selection in the Draft, and the Mason, Ohio, native pitched 34 innings in the Minor Leagues, while striking out 38 batters.

"I think what we've been most impressed with is his ability to flash swing-and-miss stuff and strike guys out," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said. "He's handled himself well acclimating to the professional atmosphere. The transition has been one that, on an emotional level, he's done a good job of going through. That ability to get batters to swing and miss is a strong talent and an indicator of future success."

Part of Zeuch's transition to Canada came in the Minors, where he spent time with the Vancouver Canadians after a stint with the GCL Blue Jays. Zeuch finished his year in Class A with the Lansing Lugnuts, and the youngster compared the differences across Minor League levels.

"In Vancouver, there's lots of young guys still, lots of college guys in Vancouver from the previous Draft, so in a way it was still similar to pitching in college," Zeuch said. "But then moving up to Lansing, that's all guys who have been there for at least a year for the most part. They have a better feel for how to hit, even watching the pitchers they have a better feel for how to pitch."

Zeuch also mentioned adjusting to a five-day rotation as one of the bigger transitions to the professional game. The 21-year-old is expected to head to instructional league with the Blue Jays from Sept. 19-Oct. 14, before heading back to Pittsburgh to work out and train with his former teammates. Zeuch expects to use the offseason to gain additional muscle in preparation for a full professional season, and he will also look to continue perfecting a repeatable delivery.

"I think I've gotten better at making sure everything stays the same and throwing more strikes," Zeuch said. "I think the biggest part of that is the bigger the guys are, it is harder to stay in sync, so me becoming a better athlete overall, in the weight room, doing the right things in the training room, really help that out."

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.