Phillies Top Ten Trades, Signings, and Roster Moves of 2016
By John Town
No. 6: Midseason Promotions of Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson
Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson, two of the Phillies top pitching prospects, had great seasons at Triple-A in 2016. Eflin went 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 11 starts for the Ironpigs, while Thompson made 22 starts with a 11-5 record and 2.50 ERA. When injury struck the major-league rotation, both players were eventually promoted.
Eflin received the call-up first, making his debut June 14 against the Blue Jays. He gave up nine runs and three home runs to Toronto’s fearsome lineup. Maybe not the best team to debut against. Eflin got progressively better, pitching two complete games, including a shutout against the Pirates that was the biggest statistical upset of the year according to Fangraphs. He then allowed 20 runs in his last three starts before going on the disabled list and eventually receiving surgery to repair his patellar tendons.
Days before Elfin went on the disabled list, the Phillies promoted Thompson to the major-leagues. He had a solid four-start stretch between August 29 and September 14 where he held a 2.49 ERA, but as a whole he struggled in his debut. In ten games, Thompson held a 5.70 ERA, 6.17 FIP, 5.64 xFIP, 5.37 K/9, and 4.70 BB/9.
Both Thompson and Eflin will likely return to Triple-A after their rough starts to their major-league careers. Eflin may be the first one up if injury strikes, but both will likely get more seasoning in Lehigh Valley before returning to the majors full-time. Even then, it was good to see two top pitching prospects in the majors for the first time.