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What to expect from Seattle Mariners rookie Tony Zych

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One of the bright spots for the Seattle Mariners in 2015 was the emergence of relief pitcher prospect Tony Zych. In 18 big league innings he posted a nice 2.45 ERA but a spectacular 24/3 K/BB ratio. Fluke or no? He's made the roster entering 2016 so we'll get a chance to find out.

From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:

Tony Zych, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 190 DOB: August 7, 1990
2012: Grade C+; 2013: Grade C; 2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C

Zych was drafted by the Cubs from the University of Louisville back in 2011, a fourth rounder. He reached Double-A in 2013 but got stuck there, then was traded to the Cubs last April. The organization switch unlocked his ability, with a dramatic improvement in command and control. He’s got a fine arm with a 93-97 MPH fastball and an above-average slider and he maintained this during his major league trial. He’s gone from forgotten Double-A mop-up man to legitimate relief prospect in less than a year and he may get a chance to close games at some point. Grade C+.


ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:

The Mariners turned him around by making some minor changes to his delivery, shortening his stride; the change boosted his velocity a tad but dramatically improved his command. All of his component ratios took large steps forward compared to what he was doing in the Cubs system.

Zych posted a 5.59 ERA in 9.2 innings this spring but the Mariners wisely paid closer attention to his excellent 18/1 K/BB ratio. Projection systems view him as a solid reliever, with K/9 between 8.5 and 8.7 and ERAs slightly above league. That may be under-selling him a bit, but overall both the numbers and the scouting reports indicate Zych has what it takes to be a successful asset in the bullpen.

For fantasy purposes, the main question is role: will Zych pick up saves? Steve Cishek holds the role right now but if something happens to him, Zych would be a candidate for the job if he pitches up to his ability. In the meantime, he should provide quality middle innings.