MASON, Ohio -- University of Pittsburgh standout pitcher T.J. Zeuch, a 2013 Mason graduate, was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft Thursday night.
The 6-foot-8, right-handed pitcher watched the draft on MLB Network with family and friends at his family’s home in Mason.
Thursday night marked the third consecutive year an area player has been taken in the first round.
Andrew Benintendi (Arkansas/Madeira) was selected seventh by the Red Sox and Ian Happ (UC) was selected ninth by the Cubs in the 2015 draft. Kyle Schwarber (Indiana/Middletown) was selected third by the Cubs in 2014.
Zeuch, 20, has been a highly touted right-handed pitcher for the University of Pittsburgh for quite some time.
Zeuch’s arm, velocity and competitiveness make him a prized prospect. And he always came to the field with the same approach and dedication each day the past three years with the Panthers.
“I will remember T.J. as one of the hardest, most diligent workers that I have ever coached,” Pitt coach Joe Jordano told WCPO Monday. “His work ethic and his very grounded attitude were refreshing.”
Mock drafts varied, but Zeuch was projected anywhere from Nos. 9-25 in the first round.
Zeuch was originally drafted by the Royals out of high school in the 31st round of the 2013 draft, but opted to pitch for Pitt.
One of the most successful pitchers in program history, Zeuch led Pitt this spring with a 3.10 ERA, recording 74 strikeouts in just 69.2 innings as the ace of the staff in his junior season. Opponents batted just .229.
Zeuch went 6-1 in 10 starts allowing just 24 earned runs and 19 walks after he missed four weeks of the season due to injury.
He tied a Charles L. Cost Field record and set a career-best with 12 strikeouts in his final outing with Pitt May 19 against Duke.
Zeuch’s size and command on the mound has impressed MLB scouts. He throws downhill with deep movement and his fastball is upward of 97 miles per hour, Jordano said.
Zeuch is the highest former Mason player drafted in the Comets’ program history, according to Mason coach Curt Bly.
Zeuch finished his Mason career with a 14-3 record and 137 strikeouts. He had an ERA of 2.15 his junior year then lowered it to a 0.62 his senior season.