Maybe August 6th, 2014 will not be seminal moment in Phillies history but it should be an interesting footnote. It looks like it will be first round pick Aaron Nola on the hill for Reading and 2010 first round pick Jesse Biddle on the bump for Clearwater in tonight’s games.
One is a 22 years old in his fifth season and the other just turned 21 years old in his first season in the Phillies organization. They control their own destiny, whether or not they pitch next season in the Phillies major league rotation. The Phillies need starting pitching. It is up to Jesse Biddle and Aaron Nola take the opportunity given to them to fill that need. It starts tonight in earnest in Reading and Clearwater.
We read a lot about the top pitching prospects. But an organization can never have enough pitching. At the next level below Nola and Biddle is the starting pitching on the Clearwater Threshers staff that has all of sudden started to blossom into serious prospects.
We have been chronicling the works of Colin Kleven and Jordan Guth in previous blogs. They have been outstanding in several of their recent starts. Mark Leiter has been outstanding even throwing a nine inning complete game shutout to beat a major league pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.
Last night I watched Miguel Nunez shine going 6.1 innings and pitch a three hit shutout striking out six. See Here. In his last two starts Nunez has gone 12.1 innings allowing no runs on four hits striking out 14.
At Lakewood the Phillies second round draft, lefty Matt Imhof, had a strong start. Except for one inning he shutdown the Asheville Tourist over five innings striking out seven. Last night just back from Tommy John surgery lefty Yoel Mecias, with his major league quality change-up, pitched five strong innings against the Tourist giving up two runs.
In the short season leagues Brandon Leibrandt has jumped to the top of the pitching prospects there. In his last start Monday night for Williamsport he started out pitching five no-hit, no-run innings. Though his fast ball sits only in the high 80’s he has major league off-speed stuff. He lost his command of the strike zone in the sixth inning and in his third time through the Aberdeen IronBirds lineup he was torched for four runs. He still managed to strike out the last two batters he faced in the inning. For the game he struck out ten and walked only one in his six inning start.
Even at the lowest level of the Phillies system I have been impressed with the pitching. Yesterday, I watched 19 year-old starter lefty Elniery Garcia worked four strong innings in the GCL Phillies win over the GCL Braves. See Here, See Here, See Here.
We just returned from an exciting GCL game this afternoon where the Phillies held on to a 2-1 win over the Yankees No 2 team. It was the six innings of pitching by lefty Denton Keys and the home run of Jose Pujols that were the difference makers. Keys refused to lose. He held on to a 2-1 lead after going to a 3-0 count on the Yankee batter in his final inning of pitching. Then he came back to get a strikeout for the second out in the inning and then ended the inning with another strikeout. See Here See Here. Closer Kyle Bogese came on in the ninth to record his fourth save of the season.
Tonight we will be at the Threshers game to watch Jesse Biddle pitch. We saw him last pitch in person in his next to last start for Reading back in June and he pitched seven innings. At the same time we will be following Aaron Nola on MiLB-TV. We have seen Nola pitch his first game as a professional against the Lakeland Flying Tigers and several games since. I will be watching to see Jesse’s command and composure on the mound and Nola’s ability to keep his fly balls in the park.
Tonight will be an important time on the road to fixing the Phillies starting rotation. They needs young starting pitchers like a Biddle or a Nola or better yet both to step up and slot behind Cole Hamels in the Phillies rotation . Over the next several seasons it will be interesting to see how many of the names mentioned above will win slots after them in the Phillies starting rotation of the future.