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► Pitch Data:
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► Scouting Report:
Role: #3/#4 Starter
Risk: Medium – Eflin has all the pieces you want in a mid rotation starter, but he has yet to put all of his pitches together with command.
Summary: Zach Eflin looks the part of a good starter due to his large frame and easy delivery. Coming into the year, Eflin mostly pitched at 88-92 touching 94 plus, with the bottom range being dominated by his two-seam fastball. The fastball was paired with a changeup showing plus potential and a below average short slider. He didn’t strike out many, but he also did not walk many and kept the ball in the park. Eflin showed a lot of the same early in the year, allowing no runs in his first three starts. He was still pitching at 88-92, with the Phillies emphasizing throwing strikes and developing his slider. As the season went on, Eflin posted solid lines and kept the walks down, but he didn’t miss bats. In mid July, Eflin went away to the Pan Am games and then struggled upon his return. However, a few starts after his return, Eflin’s arsenal went through some changes. The first was the reintroduction of his curveball, a pitch he had not used since high school. The other was a move away from his 2 seam heavy approach to one featuring more 4 seam fastballs. The result was fewer ground balls, but Eflin missed more bats and walked less Here is the actual split (first documented use of CB was Aug 8, also includes two playoff starts, IBBs removed from BB%).
BB% K% Pre CB 4.5 12.3 Post CB 2.1 14.4
That is still not domination, but it does start to look like a positive trend. The curveball was the new pitch in Eflin’s arsenal, but the reintroduction of his 4-seam fastball allowed Eflin to get up to 95-97 at the high range to blow a pitch past a hitter. Combined they gave Eflin a larger velocity range and more tools for fooling hitters. These new developments do not suddenly make Eflin an elite prospect, because they are still just additional pieces of a large puzzle that is far from solved. Eflin pitched all of 2015 at age 21, while posting a career high in innings, missing nearly a month for the Pan Am games. His current arsenal is a two seam fastball at 88-92, a four seam fastball at 91-94 touching 95-97, an above average changeup with solid deception and fade, an average short slider in the upper 80s, and a below average loopy curveball in the mid 70s. Eflin still has more control than command, and he has yet to mix his arsenal in a way that leads to better results on the field. Altogether there is room for Eflin to be a mid rotation workhorse, because he can handle a heavy innings workload. It is going to take at least another year of development and polish for Eflin to become a useable major league pitcher. Eflin may end up being a pitcher who has a longer developmental timeline upon reaching the majors, so he could be more of a #4 or #5 early in his career.
2016 Outlook: Eflin will almost certainly start in the AAA rotation, and he will be behind Thompson and Asher for a call up if needed. He will almost certainly spend almost the full year in AAA, but could see the majors late in the year if they need innings, because he will need a 40 man spot after the season. Not reaching the majors in 2016 won’t represent a failure for Eflin, because he does need more minor league time.
Role: #3 Starter
Risk: Medium – Eflin’s pitches give him a fairly high floor, but he will need to continue his success against more advanced hitters and work to develop an average breaking ball.
Summary: Eflin represents the best chance for an impact prospect among the Phillies’ trade returns. Eflin has a large frame, and he uses it to bring a fastball at 92-93, touching 94, however he touched as high as 97 in a start this year (h/t to Ronit Shah). The frame and the velocity spike have made some speculate that Eflin could sit at a higher velocity. He complements the 4-seam fastball with a 2 seam fastball at 89-91 that he uses to generate ground balls. Eflin’s best pitch is his plus changeup that combines good late fade with solid deception. His slider is still a work in progress and has average potential, but it lacks good break. Eflin has good control of his pitches, but has been more successful at generating weak contact than missing bats. If everything stays static, then Eflin is more of a back end, innings eating starter. If he can make the slider consistent and mix it in with the other two pitches, while polishing up his command, he could be a low end mid-rotation starter. The pipe dream is that the fastball will tick up more to 93-95, that he will start missing bats. Eflin will open the year in Reading, in what should be a stacked starting rotation.
What Happened: It has been an up and down year for Zach Eflin so far. His success is really dependent on his fastball command while his slider develops. The pitch has made strides, but when it isn’t there the fastball-changeup combination just doesn’t do it if he can’t locate perfectly. He could probably also stand to use his two seamer less and use the velocity in his 4 seamer to blow it past hitters occasionally. It isn’t really bad for Eflin, he is a workhorse and is very efficient with his pitch counts. He was also the youngest player in the Eastern League to start the season.
What Next: It is all about improving the slider and polishing everything else. There are a lot of “negative” things on Eflin because he is so talented and there is a lot to build on. He is not going to be a finished product when he hits the majors — he just needs to keep working on the little things, because the profile has the ability to come to together to something much greater as the parts improve. It may not look like he has improved, but he has taken some steps forward.
► Injury History: