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Zach Eflin improving his draft stock

4/6/2012

Like Lance McCullers earlier in the week, I've been making my rounds back to check out draft prospects I saw early on and Orlando area Hagerty High School righty Zach Eflin was next on my list.

Eflin is 23rd on Keith Law's latest Future 50 and his draft stock was confirmed by the roughly 50 scouts in attendance with plenty of crosscheckers, VP's and directors in the house.

As I've written before, Eflin brings a lot of positives to the table. He has a simple, smooth delivery with a clean arm action from a high three-quarters slot and a projectable 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame with plenty of room for added development. He has been up to 95 mph in the past and in this outing sat 89-93 mph much of the way. Eflin's go-to weapon is a 79-82 mph plus changeup that turns over with fade, sink and outstanding deception that had hitters fooled all night.

Eflin's third pitch is a spike curveball at 75-78 mph that is the clear weak point in his arsenal. The spike curve is a difficult pitch to master; getting command and consistent rotation can baffle even high level pitchers. Eflin just started using this pitch, has both of those problems and the pitch has no more than average potential anyway. He shows some feel for the pitch with three-quarters tilt, some length and occasional bite, but in pro ball, he'll likely scrap it early for a slider or even a traditional curveball. Eflin shows enough aptitude to spin and command a breaking ball that this could become a third above-average pitch for him.

A bigger concern in the scout section was that late in the outing, Eflin tired, sitting 88-90 in the sixth inning. He was getting looser with his mechanics, leaving pitches up, even his changeup and his arm slot appeared to vary, and he was falling off to the first base side more than usual. This isn't a big red flag as pro instruction, experience and added weight will likely clean this up, but it underlines the inherent risk in high school pitching.

It's easy for high school arms to mysteriously lose velocity for myriad reasons, just like how the time Keith saw Walker Weickel, he struggled to hit 90, and then hit 94 for me the next time out. Sometimes it doesn't come back that quickly. Arm injuries can be mysterious, but it's not like these pitchers don't have weaknesses in the first place. I slid Eflin a spot ahead of Weickel in my pref list, but when it comes to making a pick, draft rooms around baseball like to feel confident in their pick and there's all kinds of way to miss with prep arms, even with one of the best.

Looking ahead

• A few weeks back, I saw unsigned 2012 first-round pick, Vanderbilt freshman right-hander Tyler Beede. While he isn't draft eligible until 2014, and isn't a finished product yet, you can see first-round ability even when he isn't at his best. He sat 90-92, hitting 93 mph with two-seam life and liberally used a plus 78-82 mph changeup. His 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame is projectable, his arm action is clean and his full windup delivery takes advantage of his long limbs.

I didn't see many breaking balls, but Beede has a 77-79 mph curveball that he didn't have much feel for, but this was likely just a day this pitch wasn't working for him and it still showed average potential. Beede got into some trouble when he locked his front leg and left a few pitches up, but the elements of a repeat first-round selection are present.