Alfaro shows patience at the plate in Phillies victory

Phillies Jorge Alfaro homered
Jorge Alfaro hit a grand slam lifting the Phillies to their first Grapefruit League victory with a 9-6 win over Baltimore at Spectrum Field.

He finished the contest 2-for-2 with an eight-pitch walk.

"It feels awesome," Alfaro said. "I wasn't thinking about the count. I wasn't thinking of anything. I was just trying to put the ball in play, hit the ball to the middle and try to get the guys in. I just got a little bit in front and let the ball do the rest."

The Phillies' No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, hit .318 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and a .874 OPS in 114 plate appearances with Philadelphia last season. If the Phillies are to improve on their win total from a year ago, he'll have to play a big part.

The homer came on a 3-0 pitch and he had a green light.

"We just believe in our guys, plain and simple," manager Gabe Kapler said. "But most importantly we play for the big innings. We have a ton of confidence in Alfaro and his decision making. Really glad he picked out a pitch he liked and jumped on it."

Zach Eflin threw 38 pitches for the Phillies and was pulled after 1 2/3 innings. He surrendered a run on two hits. He walked one and struck out a pair.

Eflin is one of several pitchers in camp fighting to earn a rotation spot. He bulked up his legs in the offseason in an attempt to improve his performance on the mound, adding nearly 20 pounds of muscle to his frame.

"I tell you what, it feels better throwing my fastball right now," Eflin said. "Last year and the year before I kind of compensated for things I had to do to get the ball to the glove. This year I'm just going out and pitching. I'm really excited about that, being able to go out pain-free and healthy and focus on pitching alone."

Tough to Watch
Infielder Will Middlebrooks appeared to suffer a serious left leg injury in the eighth inning of Saturday afternoon's contest, colliding with outfield Andrew Pullin on a fly ball. It appeared Middlebrooks' left ankle got caught underneath Pullin.

Middlebrooks was taken to a local hospital for X-rays and further evaluation.

"Pretty emotional moment," Kapler said. "He was disappointed to come out of the game, especially after busting his [rear end] the first five or six days [of camp] and being in really, really good condition and being excited about camp. We'll see how this goes. You put yourself in his position. A ton of hard work leads up to that moment. [He gave] everything he [had] on that play."

Up Next
Aaron Nola makes his first start of spring training on Sunday as the Phillies host the Yankees at Spectrum Field.

Sunday's Starting Lineup
1. Roman Quinn CF
2. J.P. Crawford SS
3. Nick Williams LF
4. Odubel Herrera DH
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Andrew Knapp C
7. Tommy Joseph 1B
8. Dylan Cozens RF
9. Pedro Florimon 2B
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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