- Full name Anthony Aaron Zych
- Born 08/07/1990 in Monee, IL
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Louisville
- Debut 09/04/2015
Drafted in the 4th round (129th overall) by the Chicago Cubs in 2011 (signed for $400,000).
View Draft ReportZych led the Cape Cod League with 12 saves last summer, when scouts voted him the circuit's top prospect after he dealt 97 mph fastballs during the all-star game. After using him sporadically as a starter in his first two seasons, Louisville has kept him in the bullpen this spring and he has thrived. He has worked at 94-97 mph all season, with a high of 99. His fastball gets on hitters quickly thanks to some funk in his delivery. Zych's arm action isn't pretty and puts some stress on his shoulder, but it adds to his deception and doesn't hamper his control. He's an athletic 6-foot-3, 188-pounder whom the Cardinals recruited as a two-way player who could contribute in the middle infield, where he saw some action as a freshman. Zych has the mental toughness to handle late-inning assignments and shouldn't require much time in the minors. Whether he becomes a closer or set-up man depends on how consistent his mid-80s slider becomes. He doesn't miss as many bats as he should because his fastball can get straight and his slider can flatten out.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The former Louisville closer was named the Cape Cod League's top prospect in 2010 and signed with the Cubs for $400,000 after being drafted one year later as a junior. He stalled at Double-A after five seasons in the Chicago system and was sold to the Mariners for $1 at the end of spring training in 2015. The fresh start did wonders for Zych, who loosened his delivery and simplified his pitch mix to just his fastball and slider after joining Seattle. The adjustments helped him reach the majors in 2015 and 2016 and record a 2.81 ERA and 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 25 appearances. Zych possesses an electric 95-98 mph fastball and a plus 83-86 slider that generated a swinging strike 17 percent of the time it was thrown in the majors in 2016. Zych has the stuff to work as a set-up man, but injuries have held him back from reaching that ceiling. He made the Mariners' Opening Day roster in 2016 but went down with shoulder tendinitis May 1, missed the next three months and made two appearances in August before being shut down again. He had offseason shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for spring training.
Zych moved into the closer's role at Louisville as a junior and dominated with upper-90s heat before the Cubs tabbed in the fourth round of the 2011 draft for $400,000. He reached Double-A in his first full season in 2012, but didn't advance beyond the Southern League in his next two seasons while struggling with his mechanics. Chicago sold him to Seattle before the start of the 2015 season. Seattle tweaked his delivery, keeping him more compact by shortening his stride and keeping his front side from flying open. The adjustments not only gave him improved command of a fastball that reaches 98-99 mph (though it usually sits in the 91-95 range), but also added leverage to a low-80s slider that previously tended to flatten out. The results were noticeable. Zych walked just 12 batters over 67 innings and ended the season in Seattle's bullpen. If he can keep lefthanders off-balance, he has the stuff to pitch toward the back of a big league bullpen and will get a shot to do so in spring training.
The Cubs drafted Zych out of a suburban Chicago high school in the 46th round of the 2008 draft, but he turned them down to attend Louisville. He emerged as one of the top college relief prospects for 2011 after starring in the Cape Cod League, yet the Cubs were able to get him in the fourth round thanks to mixed signals about his asking price. Signed for $400,000, he reached Double-A in his first full pro season. Zych has the same approach he had in high school. He rears back and throws as hard as he can from a funky, max-effort delivery. And he can throw plenty hard, working at 94-96 mph and reaching 99. The life on his fastball and the deception his mechanics provide make it seem even quicker. His delivery makes it difficult to maintain consistent break on his slider, which arrives in the mid-80s but can flatten out. His arm action and lack of a consistent second pitch leave most scouts hesitant to give him the closer stamp of approval, but he profiles as a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever in the big leagues. Zych could get there by the end of 2013.
Scouts voted Zych the Cape Cod League's top prospect in 2010, when he led college baseball's premier summer circuit with 12 saves and dealt 97-mph heat during the all-star game. The 2011 draft was unusually deep as well as stocked with college relievers, and the product of the south Chicago suburbs surprisingly lasted until the Cubs pounced on him in the fourth round. They also had drafted him in the 46th round out of high school three years earlier. He signed three days before the Aug. 15 deadline for $400,000 and made four brief appearances afterward. Zych usually pitches at 94-97 and has touched 99, and his fastball seems even quicker because he has a funky delivery. Scouts don't love his arm action, which adds stress to his shoulder, but it gives him deception and doesn't prevent him from throwing strikes. Zych has the upside of a closer, and whether he reaches that ceiling depends on how well he can develop his slider, a mid-80s pitch that flattens out some of the time. He's extremely competitive and athletic, and he saw some action as a middle infielder as a Louisville freshman. Zych should move quickly through the minors, with a chance to reach Double-A by the end of 2012 and Wrigley Field at some point in 2013.