Phillies: Zach Eflin talks first pro homer, love for hitting

Zach Eflin (56) of the Philadelphia Phillies runs the bases after hitting a home run (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Zach Eflin (56) of the Philadelphia Phillies runs the bases after hitting a home run (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports) /

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin is known for being one of the more reliable arms in the organization ever since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for franchise hits leader Jimmy Rollins.

Eflin is currently training at a facility down in Jupiter, Florida, counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater in a few days. In a recent Baseballtown Charities Phillies Winter Tour interview, the five-year veteran said he is looking forward to when the team gets back and spends a bunch of time together.

Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin is excited for spring training.

“Last year, just playing 60 games, was a task for everybody,” Eflin said. “I really felt like there almost wasn’t a season at all. It’ll be nice to hopefully get things back on track and to have some sort of consistency in a crazy world right now.”

One thing Eflin missed during the unprecedented 2020 season was not being able to hit at the plate, as a universal designated hitter was temporarily installed. It looks like pitchers will once again hit in the National League, but the designated hitter could return for good starting in 2022 pending the new collective bargaining agreement.

Eflin said that he loves hitting and being able to have a factor in the game. “But then again,” he continued, “it gave a lot of other people opportunities for jobs to DH in the National League. That creates a lot more jobs for guys.”

Zach Eflin recalls slugging his first professional home run in 2018.

One of the more memorable moments for Eflin so far in his career is when he launched his first-ever professional home run, in a late May 2018 home contest opposite the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I remember that exact moment … everything about it. It was kind of like you’re shocked at first,” Eflin recalled. “I know that Kevin Pillar was playing center field and he really can just catch anything around him. I knew once the ball was in the air, toward center field, that he had a chance of catching it regardless of where it went.”

Eflin’s home run in the game was notable in that it was the Phillies’ first hit of the contest. Blue Jays starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio mowed down the first eight batters in the Phillies lineup in order, before Eflin took him deep with two outs in the bottom of the third.

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The Orlando, Florida, native said that what made his home run cool was that he had a bunch of his friends from back home in town to watch him start. “I think there must have been 10 or 12 guys there. They were in the stands and actually took their phones out to videotape me while I was hitting,” Eflin added. “I ended up hitting a home run. I got to talk a bunch of [stuff] to them, so it was pretty fun.”

Eflin will get to once again hit in 2021, including be able to participate in 5 p.m. batting practices. Perhaps, he will resurface some of this home run power at some point in the coming season.

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