Jesse Biddle’s been in Big League Camp for about 2 weeks now. He’s getting advice and support from everyone from Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard to Kevin Frandsen and Cliff Lee. From what we can gather, he’s learning an immense amount about the game and what it means to be in a major league dugout.
On Tuesday, he started and threw two innings in the annual intra-squad scrimmage that kicks off spring training games. You can read about those two innings here. Yes, he gave up hits and runs, but he mostly threw strikes and showed he can handle life on the mound after great hitters like Ben Revere, Dominic Brown, and Ryan Howard whacked him around a bit. Chooch drew a walk as well. And both he and Ben Revere executed a double steal. Good way to wade toward the deep end, right?
Jesse and his coaches were mostly happy with that performance. He attacked the strike zone and didn’t collapse. He throws again on Sunday after AJ Burnett gets his work in against the Pirates. The game will be on MLB.TV for sure as well as Comcast Sports Net. Check the Pitching Schedule page for more information on future outings.
One thing we’ve been surprised by is all the press the kid’s getting. It seems that the story of a Philly Kid (from the great neighborhood of Mt. Airy) getting to play with boyhood idols is just too tantalizing for reporters. We’re trying to archive all the articles and videos here at this website. If you find something that we don’t have listed, please send a note in the comments section.
There’s no doubt following Jesse’s story is fun, but it’s not really going to be a real story until he gets the nod by this team to play in the major leagues. Expectations for now are that he’ll start either for AA Reading or AAA Lehigh Valley in April. If all goes well, he’ll be ready for a call-up when the team needs him. But he knows he has work to do learning to stay consistent and attacking the strike zone. He also has tweaks that he’ll be making to the mechanics of his secondary pitches. The object here is to get called up and be ready to make the grade and stay for a good 10-15 years.
That said, Jesse reports that he is feeling more confident than ever in his change-up, and the slider gets better and better. He knows how to bomb the strike zone with his fastball already, he just has to go out and do it for 7 or 8 innings every five days (which isn’t easy). And his curveball — the pitch he is known for — is just going to get sharper the more he works on it.
Also, everyone forgets how well Jesse hit last year in his first season where pitchers are part of the lineup. It won’t hurt to get some at-bats in the lower levels as he prepares for moving up in the ranks.
Knowing Jesse, for now, the only thing on his mind is his next outing on Sunday afternoon against the Pirates. He will have his brother Sam and girlfriend in the stands. Word is his parents are driving into Clearwater right at game time, so there should be a decent Mt. Airy contingent in the stands when he goes out to face dudes like Andrew McCutcheon, Pedro Alvarez, and Russell Martin.
See you out there if you can get tickets.
To follow Phillies minor league baseball, one of the best bloggers on the subject is Baseball Betsy. Check her work out here: http://baseballbetsy.com/Baseball_Betsy/Welcome.html