Zeid Becomes a Bull Out Of The Pen For 'Claws

He was somewhat of a stretch when the Phillies drafted him in the tenth round of last June's Draft, but now, Josh Zeid is showing that he belongs in the pros. The former starter has settled in to close games for Lakewood.

Josh Zeid started garnering attention from pro scouts while he was in high school, but he wouldn't be drafted until the Phillies chose him in the tenth round of the 2009 Draft. By then, Zeid had not only his high school performance on his resume, but a strong senior season of work from Tulane University. The scouts did find Zeid back in 2005, but the consensus then was that he would need more time to mature and be the type of pitcher that could have a better than average chance of making it in the pro ranks. 

"Baseball is popular here in Connecticut, but the players don't have the chance to play all year round, so it is different than someone playing baseball in the south"  Zeid  told Scout.com prior to the 2005 Draft.

When the Phillies drafted Zeid, he was coming off of a big year at Tulane, but he wasn't always a phenom in his college days. In fact, even the Tulane Beat - the school's own web site - described Zeid's first three seasons as a "bust". It wasn't hard to argue their case though, with Zeid posting a 5.41 ERA in 42 innings through his first three seasons. Luckily for Zeid, he was able to turn things around in his senior season and catch the eye of a few major league clubs, including the Phillies. The truth is that the Phillies may have stretched a little to take Zeid in the first round, since many scouts were recommending him much lower than that since they had only his senior season to really go by. Some thought that season was just a flash in a pan, but others viewed it as a young pitcher finally just putting everything together.

While he was optimistic that his senior season wouldn't be the end of his pitching career, Zeid was smart enough to focus on his classroom work and plan for a future that wouldn't involve baseball. His Plan B was to attend law school, but so far, that hasn't been necessary. In fact, Zeid credits his switch in attitude prior to that senior season for his success on the baseball field. "Baseball used to be my entire life and the only thing I would worry about," Zeid told the Tulane Beat in March of 2009. "But in the last eight months, I've started working extra hard in the classroom and set some goals beyond baseball, like going to law school. I don't think this is going to be my last year in baseball, but I don't go on to the field worried that every pitch is going to make or break my life anymore."

After getting off to an explosive start to his senior season, Zeid eventually did come back to Earth a little, but he finished the season 6-0 with a 4.01 ERA for the Green Wave. And while those numbers weren't good enough for some scouts, the Phillies decided to take a chance on the right-hander and it's started off well for both Zeid and the Phillies.

In his first season as a pro, the Phillies started Zeid off  with Williamsport in the short-season New York - Penn League, where Zeid would again work as a starter for the CrossCutters. In his 15 starts last summer, Zeid was 8-5 with a 2.94 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings of work. The high school All-American, who went on to have a very pedestrian career with Tulane suddenly emerged as not only a good pitcher in his first pro season, but as a strikeout pitcher as well. But the Phillies weren't convinced that Zeid was being used in the best way possible and over the winter, as the minor league folks in the Phillies front office went over the reports on their young players, the decision was made to move Zeid to the bullpen. Not only did he move to the bullpen, but Lakewood manager Mark Parent has found Zeid to be a reliable closer for his BlueClaws staff.

"Josh has done a great job transitioning to the bullpen, handling late-game situations and even throwing on back-to-back days," said Lakewood manager Parent. "He's a hard worker and a tremendous young man. We look for big things from Josh the rest of the year,".

In his first month as a reliever, Zeid was credited by the Phillies with their Minor League Pitcher of the Month honor for his performance. The 23 year-old saved three games and won two others, all while not allowing in his first 15 2/3 innings of work. Ironically, after being named the Pitcher of the Month, Zeid finally had his streak of innings without allowing an earned run snapped when he allowed an earned run to Charleston in 1 2/3 innings of work and blew his first save opportunity of the month.

One of the keys to success for Zeid is what's called a "fosh-ball". It's along the lines of a split-finger pitch, but with a slightly less exaggerated split and the arm action of a screwball. It's a pitch that many pitchers in the Red Sox organization throw and in fact, Zeid learned the pitch from a Red Sox prospect. The pitch has allowed Zeid to have an out pitch that he can throw to right-handers, while he still relies on his split-finger pitch to get lefties out.

Josh Zeid's career stats

2009 Williamsport 8 5 2.94 15 15 0 79.2 64 27 26 1 20 72
2010 Lakewood 2 0 0.52 10 0 3 17.1 7 2 1 0 8 14
2 Seasons 10 5 2.51 25 15 3 97.0 71 29 27 1 28 86

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Stats through 5/6/2010.

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