Hard to believe that it is highly likely the Phillies will assign three former number one draft choices to the Reading’s starting rotation to start the season. One fan at spring training told me he is only buying the minor league television package this season just to watch Reading play. Yes, there is excitement at the Phillies spring training among the fans but it is more centered over at the minor league camp at the Carpenter Complex than at the major league camp.
The old saying is “you only get one chance to make a good first impression” applied yesterday morning at Ashburn Field for a former No. 1 pick, Zach Eflin. I had never seen him pitch in person before but I came away impressed.
Elfin faced Carlos Ruiz, Darin Ruf and Freddy Galvis in live batting practice. All I will remember from him pitching to them was just about the balls hit were into the ground. Throwing to one of the top Phillies young defensive catchers, Jose Mayorga, every ball hit off of Eflin seemed to be a worm-killer.
The Phillies Front Office was well represented at Eflin’s live BP session from General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr., to minor league farm director Joe Jordan, to former GM Ed Wade, to pro scouting director Mike Ondo and even Dallas Green were all present and watching intently. See Here.
Eflin was a first round draft pick, 33rd overall, by the San Diego Padres in the 2012 draft. He turn 21 years old next month. He was traded to the Dodgers in the the Kemp deal and then sent on to the Phillies as part of the Jimmy Rollins deal along with pitcher Tom Windle.
Elfin turned into to a ground ball pitcher last year while pitching in the High A California League. He had a 1.67 GO/AO ratio relying on the two-seam sinking fastball. He struck out 6.5 per nine innings but walked only 2.2 per nine to maintain a 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Elfin should be part of one of the best five-man starting rotations at AA in minor league baseball to start the season. He will team with the Phillies 2014 No. 1 draft pick, Aaron Nola and the No. 1 pick from the 2o10 draft, Jesse Biddle. Windle was a second round pick from 2013 by the Dodgers and a fourth round pick also from the 2013 draft and Ben Lively, who was picked up from the Reds in the Marlon Byrd trade, will finish out Reading’s projected rotation.
The key for all these pitchers will be to keep the ball in the Park at Reading. In 2014 the Reading pitching staff gave up the second most home runs in the Eastern League. From Eflin’s live batting practice yesterday and his ability to throw ground balls, he should be ready to pitch at Reading’s hitter friendly First Energy Stadium next season and then the Phillies Citizens Bank Park at some point in the 2017 season.