Zach Eflin Traded from the Padres

On December 19 the Padres finalized a trade that sent C Yasmani Grandal and minor league RHP Joe Wieland and RHP Zach Eflin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for OF Matt Kemp and C Tim Federowicz. The Dodgers then sent Eflin and Dodgers’ farmhand LHP Tom Windle to the Philadelphia Phillies for veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Windle was ranked at the #12 prospect in the Dodgers’ system by Baseball America and posted solid numbers in High-A Rancho Cucamonga with a 12-8 record and a 111/44 strikeout-to-base-on-balls ratio in 139.1 innings.

Eflin, is a former Padres’ first round supplemental draft pick in 2012 and at the end of 2014 he was ranked as one of the Top 10 prospects by two of the writers at MadFriars and at #12 by the third.

The six-foot-six Floridian was one of the best pitchers on the staff at both Low-A Fort Wayne in 2013 and High-A Lake Elsinore last year where he threw 128 innings with 93 strikeouts against 31 walks. Eflin’s best pitch is a moving two-seamer which he uses to relentlessly pound the zone but he can dial up his four-seam fastball to 97 mph.

As noted above, the Dodgers trade was a multi-faceted move designed to move an outfielder that still had some value for Los Angeles from a crowded outfield and acquire a new shortstop for the recently departed Hanley Ramirez, who signed with Boston.

In order to get Rollins the Dodgers had to put together an attractive package that will give the Phillies a pair of quality arms in AA Reading of the Eastern League, who have a chance to see the major league sometime in later 2015. As ESPN’s Keith Law noted it moves the Phillies’ AA team into one to watch for the upcoming season.

We caught up with Zach at his off-season home in Florida to talk about getting traded and his time in the Padres’ organization.

How did you first hear about the trade?

Zach Eflin: I got a call from Matt Shepherd, one of my teammates in Lake Elsinore this season letting me know that my name was being thrown around trade talks. I put on and tried to find out some more information along with doing some research on my own. After that I just waited it out until the final announcement came because there was just so many rumors and misinformation going on.

You were a first round draft pick, put up some pretty good years in the organization - did you ever think that this would happen?

Zach Eflin: I’m a minor leaguer and you are never really sure where you do or don’t stand in an organization especially with a new GM coming in.

Personally, I thought we were building a pretty good pitching corps with myself, Joe Ross and Max Fried that if we worked and improved could one day pitch in the big leagues for San Diego.

But you know the Padres had some other plans and it seems like they got a lot of talent back.

You were drafted by this organization, have friends here - but at the same time everyone’s goal has always been to be in the major leagues.

It has to feel good to know that you were a big part of deal for a player like Jimmy Rollins.

Zach Eflin: Jimmy Rollins is a great player and it is an honor to be mentioned in the same breath with him. I’ve heard some really good things about Philadelphia with all of their crazy fans and hopefully I will get an opportunity to pitch up there.

So yes, it was a big honor.

One other big benefit of the trade also has to be having spring training close by your off-season home in Florida.

Zach Eflin: That was really important to me. I have a grandmother that is in her 80s so getting on a plane and going out to Arizona really doesn’t work for her. Right now she’s only about two hours drive away from Clearwater [home of the Philadelphia Phillies spring training] so that is really great.

When it took a while for the trade to go through was their much anxiety for you?

Zach Eflin: Maybe a little at first but after a while no. There were three teams that wanted me and I believe strongly that God does have a plan for me.

There are just so many worse scenarios that could have happened; so really I was pretty fortunate.

What did you hear from the Dodgers and then the Phillies?

Zach Eflin: I got a call from A.J. Preller when the deal finally did go through late that night and he told me that I had been traded to the Dodgers, but that I would probably be flipped to the Phillies.

The next morning the Phillies gave me a call and made me feel great. I never did hear from the Dodgers [laughing].

With so many prospects being moved - and conceivably a few more - how glued were you to Twitter and how many texts were flying between you and your teammates?

Zach Eflin: It was pretty crazy. We were all texting each other with everyone getting moved and we were pretty focused on Twitter 24/7.

It is really interesting that so many of them are going to be in the NL East with the Nationals or Braves so we will still get to see each other and compete.

You sent out a really nice message to the Padres after the trade was finalized.

What is the best memory you are going to take from your time with San Diego?

Zach Eflin: Just all of the friendships and experiences that I had with everyone. So many people went out of their way to be nice and help me out. I will always remember that.

I’m going to do my best to keep in touch with everyone because these relationships that we made in the past few years are really important to me.

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