UPDATE (6/9, 5:20 P.M.): Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that Biddle’s agreement with the Phils includes a $1.16M signing bonus, and is expected to be made official this weekend after Biddle graduates.
6/8: Bryce Harper was the No. 1 overall pick in last night’s opening phase of the 2010 MLB Draft. This came as a surprise to no one, as his name was announced as the selection of the Washington Nationals. Unfortunately, human cloning isn’t quite to the point where 26 more Harpers were available, and so the Phillies had their homework cut out for them in deciding who to select 27th overall.
Despite the availability of some big-time names – and even a former Philly draftee – the Phillies used their 27th-overall selection on hometown product Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher from Germantown Friends High School. As amateur baseball players don’t get nearly the publicity and coverage of college football and basketball players, the name “Jesse Biddle” might not mean much to many people. Here’s what we know about the newest Phillies prospect.*
* In the interest of full disclosure, I personally have yet to see Biddle pitch. His being a local product could certainly make that easier, but for now, I’ll be parsing the scouting data and opinions of those more in-tune than I.
You can find links to full, detailed scouting reports on Biddle at various places. For now, here are some quotes that should be of interest.
He’s a big, tall LHP with plus velocity and the chance for two average secondary pitches. He is projectable, and LHP is something the Phillies lack in their system, at least the high ceiling variety.
The first thing you’ll always hear about Biddle is how much scouts drool over his projectability, and some would compare his projectability favorably to almost any lefty in the entire 2010 prep class.
His upside is probably that of a #2 starter, but even for that he’ll need to develop a third pitch and show that his improved control is for real.
Terrific upside & projection, fastball should add few ticks, potential plus change.
Biddle gets good downhill plane on his fastball and also throws a slower curveball in the 66-68 mph range and a 77 mph changeup with some deception.
In short, it seems like what we’re seeing with the Phillies’ pick of Biddle really isn’t a deviation from the established draft strategy of the past few years: grab a raw, projectable athlete and have faith that your system can develop him as it did Domonic Brown. It’s risky, and for every Dom Brown there are five more Anthony Hewitts, but if the risk and investment pay off, it seems the Phillies may have landed a solid pitcher late in the first round without reaching for the pick on a Hewitt or Kelly Dugan-esque level
Considering the amount of work his secondary stuff seems to need in order for him to become a Major League starter, I don’t expect to see Biddle in the Bigs anytime before late 2013. That said, it seems the Phillies have found a player they are very high on, and expect to be a contributor in the future. His progress will be exciting to follow.