TORONTO—Shortly before his third pro outing, righthander T.J. Zeuch had a conversation with Paul Quantrill that left a lasting impression.
They were in Eugene, Ore., where short-season Vancouver was playing, when the former big league reliever who is now a special assistant with the Blue Jays asked the 21 year-old Zeuch what kind of pitcher he was.
“I’m a fastball guy,” said Zeuch, a first-round pick from Pittsburgh this year. “I’m a fastball command guy. I get a lot of outs with my fastball. It’s been my No. 1 pitch for years.
“But I think a big key for me is going to be developing a better offspeed (pitch) to get to the big leagues and stay in the big leagues.”
Zeuch made nine starts across three levels after being selected 21st overall, including a pair at low Class A Lansing to close the season. He went 0-2, 4.50 in nine starts with 10.1 strikeouts and 1.9 walks per nine innings. He then went to instructional league before shutting things down.
“My changeup has come a long way from where it was,” Zeuch said. “That’s the biggest focus for me, getting that better. My curveball has always been my out pitch, so just continuing to improve that and just being able to throw that for strikes whenever I need to.”
Zeuch made a September visit to Toronto before instructional league to get acquainted with what the Blue Jays expect will be his future surroundings. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound righty plans to spend most of the offseason in Pittsburgh working out, with getting bigger and stronger another focal point.
“The biggest thing is the five-day rotation,” he said of the biggest challenge he faces in moving from college to pro ball. “Early on they had me on a six-day rotation just to kind of ease me into that. I fully expect to be on a five-man next year.
“Just finding the time to get everything done as well as my recovery, that’s been the hardest part of this job. But the trainers at every level are helping me adjust.”
• The Blue Jays named Steve Sanders their new scouting director. The former Red Sox assistant scouting director takes over for Brian Parker.
• Former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington joined the Blue Jays front office as a vice president of baseball operations. He will focus on player development and the draft.