Left-handed hurler Jesse Biddle, who has become one of the Phillies’ prized prospects since he was taken as their top draft choice (27th overall) in 2010 out of Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, is in Clearwater, FL, taking part Major League spring training for the very first time.
Biddle, 22, was an Eastern League All-Star last year, when he posted a 5-14 record along with a 3.64 ERA, a 10.01 K/9 mark and a .210 batting average against in 27 starts for the Double-A Reading Fightins.
As the new season approaches and the six-foot-five 235-pounder strives to impress Phillies brass and coaches among a collection of talented and experienced hurlers, Biddle will be checking in each week to offer his thoughts from inside camp. Read ahead for the first edition of Jesse’s Journals.
Describing his initial thoughts on his first big league spring training-
“It’s been amazing. It’s been really fun. They treat you really well, obviously, in big league camp. I mean, I’m just learning a lot from some really talented players and some guys that have been around the game a long time.”
“I’ve been around Cliff a pretty decent amount on the field, just kind of watching the way he goes about his business. It’s really fun to be a part of. It’s fun to watch somebody who has done so much in the game and had so much success and kind of what he does to have that success. And then Roy Halladay, I mean I’ve been able to talk to him just a little bit. Kind of got to bounce some questions off him and, obviously, he’s another guy that he has a chance to be a Hall of Famer. He’s a pretty- he’s done a whole lot of good in this game and he’s an incredible role model.”
Impressions of Halladay’s transition into the tasks involved with instructing rather than competing-
“I’m not really in his head or anything, but it seems to me like he’s pretty happy with the transition. You know, he seems like he made the right decision and he’s sticking by it. I don’t know whether or not he’s going to get the itch to play again. I’m not really sure. He’s a competitor. But, he pushed his body to the limit for a long time and he was a workhorse for a very long time in the big league and what he was able to accomplish was pretty awesome.”
On the types of insight or advice that Lee and Halladay are able to share-
“For me most of my conversations with Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay have been mostly about the mental side of the game, um, some of the nuances that they’ve kind of picked up on. And then kind of just me asking them what it takes to be successful and then a lot of the discussions have been about how they prepare themselves mentally for, and in between, every pitch.”
Details on his daily routine at the ballpark-
“My time at the ballpark is usually…right now, it’s about 6 AM till about 1 or 1:30 PM. And, I just come in and do some running with David Buchanan. We like to get in early and work. We get in and there’s a lot of condition prep, a lot of getting ready for the day and a lot of pre-stretching. There’s a whole routine for us. You know, I’ll have a big breakfast and then once you get out on the field, you got your (pitchers fielding practice), you got your bullpen session and, for the most part, you’re out on the field for a while. Whether it’s running, PFP, playing catch, stretching. There’s a lot of stuff to do during the day. The things about big league camp is that everything is very fast. Everything is very quick and it’s over. I think that’s the way they like to run it and it’s a lot of fun. It’s just a little confusing at first. You gotta know where you’re going, so I just follow Cliff.”
Differences between big league camp and minor league spring training-
“I think the big difference is the emphasis in big league camp is winning ball games. The emphasis in minor league camp is kind of progressing and getting better. And, obviously, the major leagues is about getting better as well, but at the end of the day, what it comes down to is what it takes to win ball games and what it takes to win a World Series for the city of Philadelphia. Those are the big things. So, it’s a little bit more business oriented. It’s fun to be around. It’s a nice change of pace. I’m just really trying to pick up on the little things.”
Thoughts on the Phils’ new pitching coach Bob McClure–
“Well, I like the way he approaches the game. He’s got a pretty simple approach, but he really stresses a lot of key points and things for me that I like to focus on. I mean, one of the big things is keeping the ball down in the zone and he stresses that very heavily. That’s a big part of my game that can keep me more consistent. I like the way he coaches. He’s very player friendly. He’s very open to questions and, you know, he was just a really friendly nice guy and you can’t really ask for anything more out of a coach.”
Details on his spring training roommates and what he’s up to in his free time-
“Me, Mario Hollands, Zach Collier and David Buchanan all have a house together. It’s pretty awesome. We’ve been playing some pretty hardcore ping pong and it’s getting very, very serious in this house. We’ve got a big living room with a ping pong table and it’s getting pretty real. Buchanan is kind of the resident pro, but we’re catching him.”
Check back in the coming weeks for more from Jesse.