Despite a hefty amount of bad results out of the Phillies’ minor league hurlers on Monday, it was 2013’s most impressive hurler who made a return to the mound and picked up right where he left off last year.
On a night when this year’s top draft pick Aaron Nola made his pro debut and looked quite mortal, top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle didn’t look deserving of that type of hype as he struggled mightily and recently demoted reliever Ethan Martin was touched up while another young standout in Tyler Viza had a weak effort, it was lefty Yoel Mecias‘ return from Tommy John surgery that should make it all seem better.
Nola, the 7th overall selection in this month’s MLB amatuer draft, made his first professional start as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers. On the mound against the Lakeland Tigers, the 21-year-old right-hander allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits in 2 1/3 innings, while striking out three and walking three. Nola took the loss, only his second of the year, as he went 11-1 as a junior with LSU, en route to being named a First Team All-American.
Biddle continued his ugly June, as he failed to pitch more than 3 1/3 innings for the third time in four outings. The 22-year-old lefty was tagged for 10 earned runs on eight hits over three innings, as Reading was dropped by Binghamton. Biddle entered this month with a 3.14 ERA, but it has shot up to 5.03 in recent weeks.
Martin, pitching for the first time in more than two weeks, relinquished a 4-2 IronPigs lead, allowing five earned runs in 2/3 inning to Columbus, taking the loss. The 25-year-old right-hander now has a 5.56 ERA in nine games at Triple-A this year.
For Class A Clearwater, typically reliable starter Tyler Viza coughed up eight runs (seven earned) in 3 1/3 innings in a loss to Greensboro. The 19-year-old righty sported a 3.88 ERA through nine starts this season, but has tallied an 8.86 mark over his previous five appearance. Viza was the Phils’ 32nd round draft pick last year.
Leave it to lefty Yoel Mecias, a Class-A All-Star last year when he posted a 4-3 record with one save, a 3.79 ERA and an 11.05 K/9 mark, to surprise and make a splash. Making his return to the mound after missing a year following Tommy John surgery last summer, the 20-year-old Venezuelan allowed an earned run in three innings while striking out five and walking none in a loss for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies. This is a great sign for the promising youngster who was ranked as the Phillies’ number 15 prospect by Phillies Nation prior to this season, and a definite positive from a night when every other widely known Phils pitching prospect disappointed.