The Cincinnati Reds have signed right-handed pitcher T.J. Zeuch to a minor league deal. For now he’s been assigned to the Arizona Complex League Reds. Their season hasn’t started yet, but gets underway on Monday. Whether or not he actually pitches there or if this is just a “paper” assignment for a short period of time is unknown.
T.J. Zuech began the season in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The righty spent April in Triple-A with the Memphis Redbirds. His season debut went well, giving up just one run in 4.2 innings and striking out eight batters. But things fell apart from there and it got real ugly, real quick. In his next four starts he allowed 24 earned runs in 14.2 innings, giving up 34 hits, walking nine batters, hitting another batter, and opponents hit .486/.543/.786 against him. He didn’t pitch in May and was designated for assignment on May 21st. He was then released on May 26th.
Zeuch has spent parts of the previous three seasons in the big leagues to mixed results in limited action. In 13 games with the Toronto Blue Jays from 2019-2021 he threw 49.0 innings with a 4.59 ERA, 24 walks, and 31 strikeouts.
When it comes to the 2022 season there are a few things worth noting. The first is that while we’re dealing with a small sample size, his ground ball rate was far and a way the worst of his career. At no stop where he had thrown at least 25.0 innings was his ground ball rate under 50%. This season in Triple-A it was 36.8%.
One team in the International League has Hawkeye installed and the data can be found publicly. T.J. Zeuch pitched in Charlotte in April, so we do have a bit of a baseline of comparison for his stuff versus what it looked like in 2021 when he was pitching in the big leagues. His sinker has a tad more sink, but a tad less run on it. The big difference is that his slider was far more like a cutter in 2021 and in 2022 it’s been more slurvy.
The former 1st round pick has been much better in the past than he has been in 2022. But something was clearly off for him to begin the season. Perhaps Cincinnati saw something that they believed can solve those issues.