Back

SoCal ProCase Spotlight: RHP Christian (CJ) Zwahlen


Jack Shannon
San Diego Area Scout

New Episode LIVE now!-At The Yard Podcast

FULLERTON, CA. - Christian (CJ) Zwahlen and his 90 mph running fastball showcased well, as he put together a successful five-batter competitive simulation (strikeout - groundout - groundout - groundout - single). The veteran Dana Hills right-hander came into the ProCase with 79 ⅔ varsity innings pitched across three varsity seasons: 7-7, 2.46 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 222 OBA, 2:1 K/BB. The Washington State commit will enter the PAC-12 with a lot of experience under his belt helping him make an impact on the field sooner rather than later. Zwahlen looks the part of a starting right-handed pitcher on the mound, with his repeatable mechanics and feel for the zone showing good down the line projection. 

TrackMan metrics showed across the board indications that Zwahlen is a ground ball pitcher and it comes to no surprise that in the five batters he faced, he garnered three ground balls and a ground ball single. The extreme run on his fastball and changeup horizontal break maximum puts him in the 93rd percentile, an exciting indication of the potential that Zwahlen has. With 67 representatives from 22 MLB Organizations in attendance, some teams 2-3 deep, and the talent on the SoCal ProCase roster, Zwahlen set out to show that his 28th overall ranking and 9th overall right-handed pitcher in California is for real and worthy of MLB scouting interest heading into the 2021 draft. 

Body: 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. Large, sturdy ideal pitches frame for a right-handed starting pitcher. Mature build with room for more thanks to broad shoulders and a strong lower half. Looks the part of a next level starting pitcher. 

Mechanics: Right-handed pitcher. Zwahlen uses a drop-and-drive delivery with a short arm path through to a high ¾ arm slot. His arm is loose, mechanics repeatable but showing a little stiffness throughout. Does a good job keeping his body in-line with home plate and his head balanced and on target, which should help him command the zone. Arm speed is consistent pitch-to-pitch helping keep his off-speed pitches deceptive. TrackMan data backs this up with relatively consistent tracked release points of his three-pitch mix. 


Fastball: Release speed averaged 88.7 mph, minimum release speed of 86.2 mph and a maximum release speed of 90.1 mph. Spin rate averaged 2154 RPM (revolutions per minute), minimum 2030 RPM and maximum 2271 RPM. Spin rate average is slightly below the 2019 MLB average, average at the NCAA level and above-average at the High School level. Induced vertical break average of 14.7 (50th percentile) shows that his fastball has average ride and the induced horizontal break average of 16, maximum 18 (93rd percentile) shows that his fastball has extreme run. These two metrics show that his fastball should result in a high number of ground balls, higher batting average against, few swinging strikes, low OPS and low SLG in comparison to a fastball with more ride and and less run. 

Changeup: Release speed averaged 80.7 mph, minimum release speed of 79.7 mph and a maximum release speed of 81.8 mph. Spin rate averaged 1347 RPM, minimum 1251 RPM and maximum 1443 RPM. Spin rate is below average for the 2019 MLB, NCAA and High School averages. Induced vertical break average of 9.8 (21st percentile) and induced horizontal break average of 15, maximum 16 (93rd percentile). These two metrics show that his change-up has significant sink and extreme run which should result in a very high amount of ground balls, low OPS, low SLG and high batting average against. 

Curveball: Release speed averaged 70.4 mph, minimum release speed of 70.2 mph and a maximum release speed of 71.8 mph. Spin rate averaged 1857 RPM, minimum 1775 RPM and maximum 1919 RPM. Spin rate is below average for the 2019 MLB, NCAA and High School averages. Induced vertical break average of -2.7 and induced horizontal break average of -15, showing that his curveball has significant side-to-side movement. This movement should enable him to effectively attack right-handed hitters away and in and left-handed hitters in. 

Summary: Zwahlen has the look and feel of a starting right-handed pitcher with potential to get through the line-up three times at the next level. The key to his success will be utilizing the extreme run on his fastball and changeup and coupling that with an effective breaking ball. Zwahlen does not possess the current spin rates to garner a high-level of swinging strikes at the next level but has the current ability to generate a lot of contact on the ground. This should result in a lot of outs especially with defensive shifts and better overall defense at the next level. The future PAC-12 right-hander currently projects as a Sunday starter in the PAC-12 and could see his value increased with a jump in spin rate and speed.