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Thursday, February 3, 2022

Jeff Vanzytveld had a major league sinker; Injury ended career at AA

Jeff Vanzytveld threw his second straight shutout in this May 1990 game for high-A Vero Beach and his pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn explained to The Indian River Press Journal how he did it: Confidence.

"Since last year, he's throwing more strikes," Lewallyn told The Press Journal. "He's got a major-league sinker. Now he believes it and he throws it."

Vanzytveld may have had a big league sinker that night, his career was nearly over. Promoted to AA later that year, an arm injury soon ended his pursuit of the bigs.

His arm injury, however, did lead him to a notable fete in another sport - bowling, a feat completed years later.

Vanzytveld's career in baseball began in 1987, signed by the Dodgers as an undrafted free agent out of Jenison High School in Michigan. Vanzytveld's name was also spelled Jeff Van Zytveld.

Vanzytveld started with the Dodgers in the rookie Gulf Coast League. he  went 4-1 over nine starts, with a 2.84 ERA.

He moved to short-season Salem for 1988. He went 4-4 there, with a 3.29 ERA, then to Vero Beach at single-A in 1989. He went 10-9 that year, with a 36.0 ERA. 

He then returned to Vero Beach at high-A for 1990 and went 6-1, with a 1.38 ERA over 17 outings, seven starts. He soon made AA San Antonio, where he saw eight outings and two starts. He went 0-1, with a 1.66 ERA, but an arm injury led to Tommy John surgery and the end of his career.

His baseball career over, Vanzytveld turned to bowling. And, as he recovered from is surgery, he turned to bowling with his left hand and, in 1992, bowled a 300 game. He later went back to his right hand and, in 2009, he bowled another 300, with his right hand, a total accomplishment picked up by The Associated Press.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,836
Made the Majors:1,289-33.6%
Never Made Majors:2,547-66.4%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:527
10+ Seasons in the Minors:322

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