Eflin soaking up veterans' knowledge

Eflin soaking up veterans' knowledge

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Every player has expectations about their first big league Spring Training, and Zach Eflin is no different.

It is not what he anticipated.

"Coming in here, everyone is open to talking and stuff," Eflin said after pitching two innings Thursday in a 3-2 loss to the Astros in a Grapefruit League game at Bright House Field. "Coming in here, I thought it'd be the young guys kind of shying away [from the veterans], but they've been completely outgoing and it's been incredible."

Of course, the young guys outnumber the old guys these days. In previous camps, the veterans outnumbered the prospects. They typically convened at a table on the north end of the clubhouse while the youngsters and sixth-year free agents hung out at a table on the south end. But with so many players in camp, the Phillies put six additional lockers on the south end, moving the tables to one side.

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The clubhouse reconfiguration has forced everybody in camp to mingle together while they eat breakfast or hang out after a workout or game.

"I've learned a lot," Eflin said. "I've really picked the brains of a lot of guys in the clubhouse."

Eflin allowed one hit, one unearned run, two walks, one hit batter, one wild pitch and struck out one. He hit George Springer to start the third inning. Eflin walked Matt Duffy with one out and threw a wild pitch to put runners at second and third. An error from third baseman Taylor Featherston (his second of the game) allowed a run to score. Eflin walked Danny Worth to load the bases before getting out of the inning.

"I've never been out of the bullpen before, so the blood was pumping," Eflin said.

Eflin is the No. 13 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com. He is expected to open the season in Triple-A with fellow pitching prospects Jake Thompson and Mark Appel. Thompson, who started the game, and Appel, who faced the Yankees in a split-squad game in Tampa, Fla., are second and fourth among Phillies prospects, respectively, and 55th and 70th among all prospects in baseball, respectively.

Of the three, the Phillies consider Thompson to be the most advanced, while Appel has the best stuff. Eflin's stuff is similar to Appel's, but the organization wants him to set up and finish hitters more consistently this season. The Phils think once he gets it, his strikeout ratio (4.6 per nine innings last season with Double-A Reading) will take a jump.

"I don't think they could have done a better job of getting a better group of guys together and going through it together," Eflin said about the potential Triple-A rotation. "We love it. Every single guy in here, we're all good with each other. We're all close-knit friends. I think it establishes and builds a foundation. If there's no competition, what do you have to prove?"

Extra bases

Cody Asche remains sidelined with a sore right oblique. The outfielder took dry swings Thursday, and he said he hopes to play in a Grapefruit League game sometime early next week.

• Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, who is recovering from a broken right thumb, threw a batting practice session Thursday morning.

• Right-hander Jimmy Cordero is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session of Spring Training on Friday. He has been sidelined with biceps soreness.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.