A brief tuneup in Florida with a handful of other Blue Jays prospects allowed T.J. Zeuch to shake off the cobwebs before his Arizona Fall League debut Saturday night. The club's fifth-ranked prospect did not disappoint.
The 22-year-old right-hander tossed three perfect innings as the Javelinas carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning in a 12-1 win against the Rafters at Peoria Stadium. Zeuch struck out four and did not issue a walk before exiting after one trip through the batting order.
Gameday box score
"Luckily, everything was kind of working for me today," Zeuch said. "I was able to throw all my pitches down in the zone and throw them for strikes. I was really able to have a good mix and that makes it pretty easy to keep hitters off balance."
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound hurler compiled a 3-6 record between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Class A Advanced Dunedin, sporting a 3.56 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 19 walks over 65 2/3 innings in the regular season. Saturday's outing marked his first official appearance against live batters since a postseason start against Tampa. He allowed an unearned run on one hit over four innings on Sept. 6.
"Facing live hitters and all that stuff is a completely different thing," Zeuch said. "I think, so far, the transition has worked pretty well. I was able to get on the mound a good amount of times before facing hitters, so it wasn't too bad of a transition out here."
Zeuch combined with No. 14 Braves prospect Touki Toussaint, Padres right-hander Andres Munoz, Atlanta lefty Corbin Clouse and San Diego left-hander Jerry Keel on a no-hit bid over the game's first eight innings. Lucas Erceg, the 10th-ranked Brewers prospect, drew a walk from Toussaint in the fifth for Salt River's lone baserunner to that point.
"Of course, it was exciting any time you're a part of something like that, regardless of whether or not it's the regular season, fall ball or anything like that," Zeuch said. "Just seeing a group of pitchers able to put something like that together is always special because it doesn't happen very often."
Offseason MiLB include
Braves right-hander Josh Graham entered for Peoria in the ninth and got an out before surrendering a double down the left-field line to Marlins catcher Rodrigo Vigil. Brewers No. 14 prospect Monte Harrison followed with an infield single before Rockies outfielder Yonathan Daza hit a sacrifice fly to center to spoil the shutout.
"When you're working with no hits, yeah, that's exciting," Zeuch said. "Something like throwing a no-hitter is always in the back of your mind when you get late in the game obviously, but the most important thing is just getting a win."
Zeuch's run support was fueled by a grand slam by No. 16 Braves prospect Alex Jackson, a two-run homer from Blue Jays infielder Lourdes Gurriel and a solo shot by No. 10 Padres prospect Josh Naylor. The homer was Naylor's second in the AFL and the 20-year-old scored three runs and drove in two.
"If your guys are scoring that often and that many runs, it just makes your job that much easier," Zeuch said. "You can just go out there and attack guys. You don't have to worry about giving up one or two runs and blowing the lead."
In other AFL action:
Desert Dogs 4, Solar Sox 3
Logan Hill (Pirates) went deep twice and drove in all four Glendale runs in the win. Top Indians prospect Francisco Mejia chipped in a pair of singles. Desert Dogs starter Sean Brady (Indians) allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five over three scoreless innings. David Bote (Cubs) clubbed a solo homer while Ian Rice (Cubs) and Cam Gibson (Tigers) plated one run apiece for Mesa. Gameday box score
Saguaros 11, Scorpions 1
Cardinals No. 27 prospect Andrew Knizner, Nick Dini (Royals) and Luis La O (Rangers) each plated two runs as Surprise rode a seven-run seventh inning past Scottsdale. Michael O'Neill (Rangers) led the Saguaros with three hits, including a double, and drove in a run. Surprise starter Zach Lovvorn (Royals) allowed four hits and struck out three over four scoreless frame. Righty Mickey Jannis (Mets) surrendered an unearned run on one hit and a walk while fanning one over three innings to fall to 0-1. Gameday box score