Born in Vali, Colorado, Zebulon Vermillion was named after Zebulon Pike, the explorer for whom Pikes Peak was named or a man with the same name that his mother met at a local gym. He and his family left the Centennial State moved to St. Joseph, Missouri when he was young, and it was there that he met Jake Randa, son of Royals third basemen Joe Randa. The two became friends and played on regional little league and travel ball teams for years. At the Randa’s suggestion, the Vermillion’s moved to Prairie Village, Kansas, where Zeb enrolled at Shawnee Mission East High School. A standout for head coach Jerrod Ryherd, Vermillion lettered three times and posted an impressive 1.41 ERA in 34.2 innings pitched in his senior year while hitting .375/.436/.562. Considered one of the best pitchers in Kansas thanks to his solid fastball and size, Vermillion ended up going undrafted after he graduated and honored his commitment to the University of Arkansas.
In 2018, his freshman season, the right-hander was used out of the bullpen sparingly, making 7 total appearances and posting a 4.82 ERA in 9.1 innings with 12 hits allowed, 0 walks, and 11 strikeouts. He pitched for the Sanford River Cats of the Florida Collegiate Summer League and then returned to Arkansas for his sophomore year, posting a 3.63 ERA in 22.1 innings, allowing 21 hits, walking 9, and striking out 21. That summer, he played for the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod League, posting a 5.23 ERA in 10.1 innings over 9 games with 13 hits allowed, 8 walks, and 4 strikeouts.
The 2020 season would have been Vermillion’s junior season, but the NCAA cancelled the season in mid-March; for what it’s worth, the 21-year-old did not allow a run in the 7.1 innings he pitched, having allowed 4 hits, walked 0, and struck out 12. He returned to Arkansas in 2021 as a redshirt junior and posted a 4.69 ERA in 40.1 innings split over 6 starts and 9 relief appearances. He allowed 41 hits, walked 15, and struck out 28. Vermillion returned to Arkansas this past season, his redshirt senior season, and posted a 2.39 ERA in 26.1 innings, all out of the bullpen, having allowed 22 hits, walked 10, and struck out 27.
Vermillion is a big, physical right-hander, standing 6’5” and weighing 250-pounds. Between when he first enrolled at Arkansas and the present, he put on roughly 60 pounds of weight, which he carries well. Though a starter for only a fraction of the time he pitched for the Razorbacks, his build should help him eat innings should he be used as a starting pitcher in the future. It also has allowed him to maintain his stuff further into games at higher pitch counts, though the right-hander rarely threw more than a single inning in 2022.
The 23-year-old right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot. His delivery is a bit stiff and mechanical, but Vermillion generally has not had trouble maintaining his release point and commanding his pitches.
His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, topping out at 93, 94 MPH. His is able to command the pitch to all four quadrants of the strike zone but works to his glove side and the top half especially well; Vermillion is primarily a fly ball pitcher who gets hitters to get under the ball. He complements his fastball with a mid-80s slider that sits between 81-86 MPH and features quick two-plane bite. He occasionally throws a get-me-over mid-70s curveball, but as a reliever mainly sticks with his fastball-slider combination. If used for roles in which he will be throwing more than an inning or two, he will need to refine the curve, but if he stays in a one-inning relief role going forward, his 1-2 punch is enough to get batters out.