If you ask anyone they would say that Jesse Biddle is the top left-handed starter in the Phillies minor league system. But it is lefty Hoby Milner who picked up his third win in his last three starts to become the first exclusive starter in the Phillies system to win three games this year.
Hoby has been so consistent in his last three starts. Last night he pitched a three hit, eight strike out, six inning shutout gem against the Tampa Yankees at George Steinbrenner Field. The thing that impressed me more than anything is that he got stronger both as the game and even as each inning went on. He fanned four in his last two innings of work. All totaled he had five, third out strike outs in his six innings.
Milner was the Thresher’s opening night starter to begin the season against Dunedin and pitched three perfect innings. But then the roof sorta fell in on the young left as he gave up a lead off home run in the fourth and eventually was knock out early in the game. He struggled in his next two starts but has been dominating ever since. Going 3-0 in his last three starts he has pitched 17 innings giving up 11 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks and striking out 18 for a 1.06 ERA. Not quite Jesse Biddle numbers but close enough for the 22 year old who pitched for the University of Texas before being taken in the seventh round of the 2012 draft by the Phillies.
Last night was no easy game for Milner to pitch. The start was delayed for an hour by a torrential rain storm that only subsided just before game time. We went down to the bullpen to watch him warm up and Hoby seemed to be locating his pitches well hitting the corners of the plate while throwing to catcher Logan Moore. Then Hoby had to face Yankees pitcher Cory Black who struck out 11 Threshers before tiring and giving up three runs in the top of the fifth powered by a two run double to right by the hot hitting Aaron Altherr.
Basebll Betsy, superfan Walter and I were determined to stay the entire the game just to see Hoby pitch and then to pick up the win. We were of about 20 fans left when the three hour game was finally over resulting in an 8-0 Thresher’s win and Hoby’s third straight win. It was well worth the wait to watch the 6’2″ 165 lbs. lefty show that he is well on the way to pitching in the big leagues someday.
Congratulations are in order to Jesse Biddle for being named one of only five pitchers and two lefties to the Baseball America’s Minor League April All-Prospect List. Should the Phillies decide to move Jesse up to the next or final level later this season, they have another left-handed starter who is off to a great start for the All Prospects May List who is ready in Clearwater to take Jesse’s place in Reading.