|Tom Eshelman, image- Jay Floyd
Acquired as part of the trade that sent reliever Kenny Giles to Houston, Eshelman has dominated the competition since joining the Phils organization.
After becoming Houston's 2nd round draft choice (46th overall) in 2015 and signing for a reported $1.1 million, the Carlsbad, CA native started four total games at two levels of the Astros' system.
As a member of the rookie level Gulf Coast League Astros, Eshelman allowed two earned runs while striking out three and walking two in four innings of work. He was then promoted to Class A Quad Cities where he allowed three earned runs while striking out five and walking three in 6 1/3 innings.
After the trade, he opened 2016 with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. Eshelman would become a Florida State League All-Star in his initial campaign for the Phillies organization. In 11 starts there he tallied a 4-2 record with a 3.34 ERA, a .251 batting average against and a 9.7 K/9 mark. He would be promoted to Double-A Reading by mid-season.
As a member of the post-season bound Fightins, Eshelman wasn't as sharp. In 13 starts for Reading, Eshelman posted a 5-5 record, a 5.14 ERA, a .307 batting average against and an 8.1 K/9 mark. Those numbers weren't alarming, as it's important to remember that he was pitching at the Double-A level in just his second pro season.
In 2017, Eshelman opened the season back with Reading. In five starts there, he would sport a 3-0 record with a 3.10 ERA and a .257 BAA while striking out 22 and walking five in 29 innings.
In early May the six-foot-three 210-pounder earned a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 18 starts there Eshelman tallied a 10-3 record with a 2.23 ERA, a .227 BAA and a 6.0 K/9 mark.
Eshelman was honored by the Phillies as their top minor league pitcher last year, being named the recipient of the annual Paul Owens Award.
Coaches like his approach as a true pitcher. Equipped with a fastball that features late sink and can peak around 93-94 MPH, Eshelman can see plenty of swings and misses. He also throws a quality curve ball along with a slider and a change up, locating them all very well. He's got an excellent feel for pitching.
The ability to locate his offerings helps Eshelman greatly, as he has the confidence and ability to throw any pitch in any count, so the concept of a "hitter's count" doesn't really apply with him. He can even pitch out of the zone with success.
Control is definitely the big factor in Eshelman's game, as he notched a collegiate career record 0.4 BB/9 mark in three years at Cal State Fullerton, where he was a multi-time All-American. He possessed a 313-to-18 strike out-to-walk ratio in his college career. Additionally, in his 2015 junior campaign, Eshelman sported a 1.58 ERA in 18 outings.
Scouts had Eshelman classified as one of the most polished pitchers in his draft class.
Look for the 23-year-old to open the 2018 season with Lehigh Valley. He'll hope to put pressure on the Phillies to give him a shot at the big league rotation before long and there's no reason fans shouldn't expect to see this guy reach the majors.
You can keep track of this year's Phillies prospect countdown at this link.