Lefty pitching prospect Jesse Biddle had a difficult season last year, but injuries and shaky stats aside, he’s still a prospect the Phillies will count on to take strides toward helping the big club in the near future.
Selected in the opening round of the 2010 draft, Biddle, who grew up as a Phillies fan, quickly made his minor league debut, beginning his journey toward donning the uniform of the team he cheered on from the seats of Citizens Bank Park all throughout his childhood and teenage years. The graduate of Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia combined to post a 4-1 record with a 3.92 ERA and a .241 batting average against in 12 starts with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies and short-season A level Williamsport in 2010.
The following season, Biddle became an All-Star in the Class A South Atlantic League as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws. As the team’s most dependable starter through much of the year, Biddle posted a 7-8 record with a 2.98 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) and notched 124 strike outs in 133 innings pitched while sporting a.219 batting average against.
In 2012, the young hurler had quite a solid season, representing the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League All-Star Game. That year he tallied a 10-6 record with a 3.22 ERA, a 9.53 K/9 mark and a .237 batting average against.
He followed that up with another All-Star campaign in 2013 for Reading in the Double-A Eastern League. In 27 starts, Biddle would sport a 5-14 record with a 3.64 ERA, a 10.02 K/9 mark and a .210 batting average against.
Biddle also represented the Phillies in the MLB All-Star Futures Game in 2013, earning the win for Team USA at New York’s Citi Field.
The 2014 campaign was one that Biddle would likely wish to forget, as he dealt with an odd injury and minimal success. After leaving the FirstEnergy Stadium clubhouse, in Reading, during a hailstorm in May and being hit in the head with ice, Biddle was diagnosed with a concussion.
Time off and physical therapy were required for Biddle, who cited to me in August that the concussion had a lasting impact that affected him on the field as well as in his personal life. He would not return to 100-percent for much of the season.
Overall in 19 minor league starts, he posted a 5-10 record with a 4.58 ERA and a .234 batting average against while striking out 92 and walking 51 in 94 1/3 innings.
This off-season, Biddle attempted to make up for lost time by pitching for Mayaguez in Puerto Rico, but, after two starts in which he allowed nine earned runs in 5 1/3 total innings, the youngster was shut down with elbow soreness.
Control is the major area where Biddle needs to refine his game. With a 4.48 BB/9 mark for his career, cutting down on the free passes will help the youngster immensely.
The 23-year-old’s pitch repertoire includes a four-seam fastball that typically clocks in the 92-93 MPH range, but can register a bit higher. He also features a dominating curve ball that often leaves opposing batters looking foolish as well as a solid change up, which he has built confidence in to throw in any count.
Biddle’s standout quality has long been his never-satisfied attitude. With a dip in production along with time on the shelf as well as fans growing impatient with his progress of late, look for Biddle to have an extra chip on his shoulder that can help drive him toward making the necessary improvements to climb to the highest level of the sport.
Expect him to open the season in Double-A Reading with time at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on the horizon this year.
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