As my family and I often do, we planned a Sunday trip to Reading for a ball game yesterday. Being that it’s an almost hour drive for us, afternoon and weekend games work so much better for us. With this one being purchased so far in advance, we had no idea who would wind up starting for the Fightins but there’s no wrong answers in 2015. And the answer we got was the one we wanted the most. Anyone who has asked me about Phillies prospects this year knows my affinity for Zach Eflin and his profile. I’ve studied him the hardest this offseason and have come away very optimistic. A fast start only fed my fire and his recent struggled haven’t done anything to outen the flame. I’ve tried to watch as much of Eflin’s game action on MiLB.tv as I can but it hasn’t been enough for my personal taste. What better way to confirm my gut than to put him to The Eye Test? And I got the chance. But first, let’s run through the rest of the prospects.
Roman Quinn – Roman did not play Sunday. We saw him after the game with his left thumb wrapped and he confirmed he jammed it. It doesn’t seem serious so he shouldn’t miss much time.
Aaron Altherr – Altherr came into the game on a pretty hot offensive streak, 12-games I believe. The times I’ve seen him this year, he has looked completely different at the plate. Yesterday, he looked more impatient and the results bared that out. He grounded out weakly three times and flied out in his other appearance. In total, he faced ten pitches in those four at bats, with six of them coming in his second at bat. I’m still very encouraged by his progress over last year so I’ll write this one off as an anomaly. Yes, I create the curve for The Eye Test!
Art Charles – It looks like I caught him at both ends of his hot streak. Charles Had a tough night as he went 0 for 4 with ground out, pop out, fly out and strike out, seeing 13 total pitches.
Gabriel Lino – As opposed to the previous 2 on the list, Lino looked more selective early. He walked in each of his first 2 at bats, seeing six pitches each time. His last two at bats were both first pitch swings put in play hard, one a sharp single and one a fly out. Defensively, Lino held his own. I’d have to watch a replay to see how his receiving was but some of the credit for Eflin’s night has to go to Lino.
Zach Eflin – I had the great fortune of conversing with Zach after the game for a bit. He and my son have become quick friends so after they chatted, I snuck in a few a questions before Zach and his girlfriend hurried off to dinner. It seemed to me that he leaned heavily (and successfully) on his fastball throughout the night (confirmed by Zach), which sat 90-92 and touched 94. The radar gun showed a few 97s and 98s but I’m not sure I’m buying it, sorry Zach. There was also a pitch that looked slider-ish from our seats, clocked around 86-88, that was also very effective. For the most part, he executed his game plan of pounding the bottom of the zone and challenging hitters. I think he elevated a few which led to seven fly ball outs and a solo home run by former major leaguer, Brendan Harris. But its hard to argue with 14 ground ball outs and a few hits that snuck through defenders. Yes, I said 14! And as all ground ball pitchers need, some stellar defensive plays by Brodie Green and Brock Stassi made life easier for Eflin. All in all, he was exactly what I expected to see. I sure do like looking smart…
So, that was my afternoon in Reading. A win for the good guys, dollar hot dogs, and a stellar performance from my family’s favorite pitcher. Couple that with confirmation that the scouting reports I’ve read on Eflin were dead on and I think I had a great day. Can’t wait to schedule the next trip out that way.
Photo by Chris LaBarge