In the next edition of our prospect watch, we will zero in on RHP Tyler Zuber.
A pure reliever, Zuber was taken by the Royals in the 6th round with the 180th overall pick in the recent 2017 draft. An Arkansas native, Zuber stayed close to home, playing his college ball at Arkansas State, where he stayed all four years.
Zuber put up good results his freshman year in Jonesboro, owning a 2.34 ERA in 24 relief appearances (42.1 IP). He was stretched out his sophomore year, pitching to the tune of a 3.54 ERA in 73.2 IP, even starting in eight games.
After a rough junior year in which he shuffled between starting and relieving, Zuber finally settled back into the bullpen for his senior year, with the results being incredible. In 52.1 IP, Zuber posted a 2.06 ERA in, striking out 80 (!) batters. The most impressive number he had was a .143 BAA. He also posted careers bests in ERA, WHIP, H/9, BB/9, and K/9 just in time for the MLB Draft.
With the Royals loading up on pitchers in the earlier rounds of the 2017 draft, Zuber found a home with the Royals in the 6th round. After he was drafted, the Royals assigned him the Rookie League Burlington Royals. Zuber performed very well in for a league that favors hitters, finishing the year in Burlington with a 2.16 ERA, 1.82 FIP (3rd in the Appalachian League, min. 20 IP), 13.7 K/9 (!), and 2.5 BB/9.
Zuber had a quick stint with the Low-A Lexington Legends towards the conclusion of his first professional season, struggling in a small sample size (2.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO).
In his first season of pro ball, Zuber had one of the top seasons out of any pitcher in the Royals system this year. The righty flashed amazing potential as a reliever, getting a surplus of strikeouts and ground balls (3.40 GB/FB ratio, 8th in the Appalachian League).
Zuber strikes me as a guy who just knows how to pitch. Going further on that broad statement, he knows how to utilize his arsenal very well and he rarely makes mistakes. Highlighting his arsenal is a power fastball (mid-upper 90s) and a changeup that draws great reviews. The velocity is impressive given his 5-11, 175 lbs frame. The changeup is phenomenal and is probably one of the top pitches in the Royals organization.
Good movement on this pitch, tailing away and dropping down for the righty to hit a weak ground ball. His delivery seems pretty effortless. Not many moving parts, minimal extension. He repeats his delivery well, hitting his spots often. This gives him a very healthy amount of strikeouts and ground balls. He can give up a fair share of hard-contact (had a high 25.4 LD%), but this can sometimes be the case with big strikeout guys.
The Royals have had a fairly good track record of finding relievers in the draft. Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, Brandon Finnegan in 2014, and possibly Richard Lovelady. Tyler Zuber could be the next relief ace that the Royals develop.
Photo Credits: Kristy West