The Pittsburgh Pirates have had recent success with their drafts, but who should they be targeting to continue that trend?
We take a look at who the Pirates should, and possibly could, draft with their first pick in the draft. In just a few weeks, the Pirates will have to make the decision in a weekend that could shape the future course of the franchise.
We break down some candidates the Pirates have been and should be looking at when their pick comes up at number 22 overall Thursday night, June 9.
T.J. Zeuch – RHP, University of Pittsburgh
Listed at 6’7” and 225 lbs. on his Pitt bio page, Zeuch just sounds like the type of pitcher the Pirates covet. Add to that, he throws on a downward plane with good sink, fills the strike zone with solid control, and gets batters out with a solid curve, and Zeuch is a genuine candidate for the Pirates to snatch him up with their first pick. The Pitt ace has been soaring up draft boards after an excellent start to the season, and a mock draft by Baseball America had the Bucs making sure Zeuch stays in Pittsburgh, which is why he gets consideration here. Both Baseball America and MLB.com had Zeuch ranked at 41, which is why I withheld him in my draft analysis from last week concerning Alex Kirilloff and William Benson.
Zeuch struggled in his sophomore year with his ERA jumping from 2.75 to 3.87, although it was accompanied by a rise in his strikeout rate to roughly one per inning. In 2016, his hot start has been cooled to the point where he sits at a 3.41 ERA to go along with a 6-1 record. Zeuch throws a fastball in the low to mid-90s, although he can get it up to 97. He also throws a solid curve and slider, but a lot of the concern surround him is his ability to develop his changeup. In his freshman and sophomore years, Zeuch stuck to throwing his changeup in bullpen sessions, but he has been getting more comfortable with his changeup on a weekly basis to the point it’s capable of keeping hitters guessing now.
Conclusion: A lot of scouts are rightly impressed with Zeuch, but I feel it would be an overdraft to take him with the 22nd pick. There’s a lot of pitching talent available in this year’s draft. The Pirates are unlikely to be able to get him with the 41st pick, but Zeuch projects as a back of the rotation starter or middle reliever, not the type on whom you spend a mid-first round pick.
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