Right-hander Zach Eflin was the key target when the Phillies traded away former National League MVP Jimmy Rollins last off-season. With a solid repertoire and a proven track record of being a strike thrower, the 21-year-old is one of the most promising hurlers in the system.
Selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft by San Diego out of Hagerty High School in FL, Eflin made his professional debut that same year as a member of the rookie level Arizona League Padres. He would post a 0-1 record with a 7.71 ERA in four games (three starts) as an 18-year-old.
After making minimal impact upon his minor league debut, Eflin came back strong in 2013, tallying a 7-6 record along with a 2.73 ERA, a .239 batting average against and a 6.5 K/9 mark in 22 starts with Class A Fort Worth.
In 2014, as a 20-year-old, Eflin sported a 10-7 record with a 3.80 ERA and a 6.5 K/9 in 24 starts for Lake Elsinore in the Class A California League.
Last year, Eflin would open his first season in the Phillies organization as a member of the Double-A Reading Fightins, where he would spend the entire regular season campaign, leading the team toward the Eastern League playoffs. In 23 starts, the Florida native sported an 8-6 record with a 3.69 ERA, a 4.6 K/9 mark and a .268 batting average against. He was also honored as a mid-season All-Star, sporting a 2.88 ERA at the break.
Eflin’s arsenal includes a low-to-mid-90’s four-seam fastball, a solid slider as well as a change up that has great potential as a possible plus offering. He worked last year on refining his secondary pitches, with pitching coach Dave Lundquist, adding a curve ball, which became a very good weapon, during the season. Consistency with his mechanics is said to be a big plus for the youngster and he pitches to contact, getting a lot of ground balls thanks to the sinking movement on his fastball.
The six-foot-four 200-pounder has the right mentality for a starter that can take on the challenges of the upper levels. When faced with bad results, he won’t allow them to impact his approach negatively and is able to display considerable poise on the mound.
Not only was Eflin part of the Rollins trade with the Dodgers, Los Angeles flipped him immediately after they acquired him from the Padres in a swap for two-time All-Star Matt Kemp as well.
Expect Eflin to hold down a rotation spot with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year. With a ceiling as a middle of the rotation starter, possibly higher in the order, Eflin could see some big league time by season’s end. With an invitation to major league camp, he should get plenty of exposure with the big league team in spring training.
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