Pleskoff Scouting Report: Zach Eflin

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Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher Zach Eflin (56) [9858] delivers a pitch during a game between Philadelphia Phillies the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase field. (Photo by Kevin French/Icon Sportswire)

  • TEAM: Philadelphia Phillies
  • AGE: 22
  • POSITION: Pitcher
  • BATS: Right
  • THROWS: Right
  • HEIGHT: 6-foot-5
  • WEIGHT: 215 lbs
  • ACQUIRED: The San Diego Padres selected Eflin directly from Paul J. Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida in the 2012 First Year Player Draft. Eflin was a supplemental first round selection, being chosen at No. 33 overall.

*****

In December 2014, Eflin was part of two separate transactions. The Padres traded him along with catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Joe Wieland to the Dodgers for C Tim Federowicz, outfielder Matt Kemp and cash. The day after that trade, the Dodgers traded Eflin and pitcher Tom Windle to Philadelphia for Jimmy Rollins and cash.

STRENGTHS

Eflin has a solid fastball/slider combination that helps him navigate through a lineup.  He knows how to pitch and he sequences pitches very well. He has good command and control, walking fewer than two hitters on average per game.

He throws both a four-seam and a more sparsely used two-seam fastball. He uses his fastball to set up his sound and consistent secondary pitches, all of which appear to be above average offerings.

He began the most recent game I scouted throwing his fastball at 93 miles per hour. By the mid-innings and the second time through the lineup he had added three miles per hour to his fastball, with the pitch settling in at 96. Eflin’s fastball has late life, often rising or sinking in the strike zone and fooling the hitter. He gets sink on his two-seamer in particular and induces ground balls.  However, he mixes and matches his pitches very well and pitches to contact, letting his defense do their work.

Eflin’s slider varies in velocity from 82 to 86 miles per hour. He isn’t afraid to use that as well as his curveball and changeup at any time in the count. He pitches with confidence in his entire repertoire.

Eflin’s curveball really altered the balance of the hitters as he threw several at 74 miles per hour. It’s an impressive pitch that he shows just enough to keep the hitter honest. 

One of Eflin’s best characteristics on the mound is his ability to pitch inside. He carves out the inside of the plate and busts pitches in on the hands of both right- and left-handed hitters.

In his home park in Philadelphia and in other hitter-friendly parks like Chase Field in Arizona and Coors Field in Colorado, pitching inside at times and using the entire plate is essential.

Eflin has outstanding mound presence. He gets stronger and gains confidence the further along he gets in the game. He finds his rhythm and repeats his delivery very well.

WEAKNESSES

Like any pitcher, he is not a machine. Even with good command and control, there are times he will make a mistake. Pitching up in the zone can have negative ramifications and create issues. He has had a couple hiccups hanging curveballs and sliders and getting hit. That was the exact scenario when Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb took him deep half way up the batter’s eye in center field. He got a pitch up in Lamb’s eyes and the ball was long gone to the deepest part of Chase Field.

Eflin is not a traditional strikeout pitcher. He may strike out only four-to-six hitters per nine innings, but his control and command are good enough to keep his walk rate down. But when he needs the strikeout to get out of hot water, it may not be there for him. He’ll have to rely on his defense to make plays.

NARRATIVE

Eflin pitched well enough in high school for the Padres to spend the first June 2012 supplemental draft choice on him. Instead of attending the University of Central Florida as planned, he signed with San Diego.

The Phillies are the beneficiaries of a bit of a trading frenzy in the 2014 offseason. Changing organizations twice in two days, Eflin and Philadelphia may reap the benefits of aggressive moves made first by San Diego and then the Dodgers.

Eflin is tall and carries his height well. There is a chance for him to gain even more strength as his workout regimen continues.

Hiding the ball well in his delivery, Eflin has mastered the art of pitching to his strengths and not over-throwing the ball. His pace is excellent and he knows enough to keep an arrow or two in his quiver for the next time through the lineup. Once he gets in rhythm, he is tough to hit. Getting in rhythm may take a full inning or several hitters.

Eflin made his major-league debut for the Phillies on June 14, 2016, working three innings in a rough start against the Toronto Blue Jays. He has four starts as of this writing and is gaining both confidence and momentum. He worked an inning longer in each game, going six strong innings in his June 29 start against Arizona.

So far at the big league level, Eflin is pitching equally well against both right- and left-handed hitters.

THE FUTURE FOR EFLIN

I am very bullish on the Phillies’ young pitching. The starting corps includes very good arms that belong to Aaron Nola (age 23), Vincent Velasquez (age 24), Jerad Eickhoff (age 26) and Eflin who just turned 22. That’s a very strong group of right-handed starters to lead the club to the future. The bullpen has an equal array of quality young pitchers capable of holding leagues and/or closing games.

Eflin should be able to maintain his role in the rotation. He knows what it takes to navigate through a lineup, he has a solid repertoire of big league pitches and he has the mound demeanor to win.

CONCLUSION:

Eflin is on the right team at the right time to contribute to their promising future. He can be a core part of the rotation as long as he continues to get movement on his pitches and commands the strike zone in the manner I have seen. 

Eflin won’t generate strikeouts and he’ll be dependent upon good defense to reach his potential. Eflin pitches to contact to the degree that even the slightest crack in the defensive armor could lead to an inning getting out of control.

I really like the way Eflin, (and most of the Phillies pitchers) comports himself on the mound. He won’t back down from a hitter and he’ll throw his entire arsenal to get the hitter out.

EFLIN IN A PHRASE: The fun is just beginning for him

SCOUTING GRADE FOR EFLIN: 50 – A solid starting pitcher for the middle or back end of the rotation

Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff

The post Pleskoff Scouting Report: Zach Eflin appeared first on Todays Knuckleball.

Source: Knuckleball

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