Why Reds should take a flier and trade for Ohio native T.J. Zeuch

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JUNE 17: T.J. Zeuch #29 of the Toronto Blue Jays rubs a ball in between pitches. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JUNE 17: T.J. Zeuch #29 of the Toronto Blue Jays rubs a ball in between pitches. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /

T.J. Zeuch, a former first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2016, was designated for assignment earlier this week. The Cincinnati Reds, who always love a reclamation project, should take a flier on the Ohio native.

Of late, we’ve seen the Reds take a risk trading for pitchers like Jeff Hoffman, Sonny Gray, and Lucas Sims. In the case of Hoffman, it appears a change of scenery was not what the doctor ordered.

However, Gray went from an outcast in New York to All-Star in 2019 and is one of Cincinnati’s best starting pitchers. Sims turned his career around when the Reds decided to move him to the bullpen after spending several years in the Atlanta Braves farm system. Could Derek Johnson and his staff work some magic with Zeuch as well?

The Reds should take a flier on former top prospect T.J. Zeuch.

This move makes too much sense not to happen. T.J. Zeuch has just 13 major league games under his belt and 31 punch outs over 49 innings. Zeuch has seen time as a starting pitcher and a reliever. Back in 2017, Zeuch was a Top 5 prospect in the Blue Jays’ farm system according to MLB Pipeline.

The one thing that Zeuch does well in induce ground balls; something that cannot be quickly dismissed when pitching at Great American Ball Park. Zeuch has spent the bulk of his 2021 season with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate and, according to FanGraphs, has a 505% ground ball rate.

Zeuch’s inability to miss bats is his downfall. The 25-year-old, for his professional career, owns just a 14.1% strikeout-rate and 10.9% walk-rate. In his brief time with Toronto this season, Zeuch had higher walk-rate (12.2%) than strikeout-rate (10.8%).

T.J. Zeuch is a big right-handed pitcher. Standing 6-foot-7, Zeuch has an imposing presence on the mound. However, Zeuch is not going to overpower you with his fastball, instead relying on his sinker to get weak contact.

In August of 2019, T.J. Zeuch tossed a no-hitter while pitching for Triple-A Buffalo. He walked one batter, hit another, and struck out three en route the second no-hitter in Buffalo Bisons history. The other pitcher to do so was Bartolo Colon in 1997.

Next. Ranking the Reds top trade targets at the deadline

The Cincinnati Reds would have to give up virtually nothing in order to land T.J. Zeuch. In fact, this is the type of deal that could include a player to be named later. Zeuch still has minor league options remaining as well, so it’s not as if the Reds would have to keep the right-hander on the active roster.