Still Lights Out, But Miles to Go

Thanks to Walt Hilsenbeck for this photo.

Thanks to Walt Hilsenbeck for this photo.

Two weeks ago, Jesse had pitched in three games, registering an ERA of 5.10 and a record of 0 – 2. The pundits speculated that he was struggling. Those of us who know him understood that he was still trying to find his groove on the mound. Statistics are an interesting thing: they tell you very little about what’s going to happen next Tuesday. The numbers are only about what has already happened. It’s never been clear what part probability should play in baseball — and yet, of course, somehow the numbers mean everything to all of us.

In his past two starts Jesse has only allowed one earned run and given up just two walks in 14 innings of work. He’s won both games (read about the last one here) and he’s struck out 21 batters. His ERA is now 2.86 and he leads the Eastern League in strike outs with 38. His strikeout-to-ball ratio is a stunning 5.43 and his WHIP (walks and hits per inning) is a respectable 1.07. Plus, last night the Phillies announced he was their farm system Pitcher of the Week, and Baseball America named him the #2 Hot Prospect of the Week. Maybe the best thing to do is just let players play and look at their stats at the end of the year. Maybe there’s a reason why some of us don’t coach in professional baseball.

Whatever, if you’re a real baseball fan, the game Wednesday night against the Richmond Flying Squirrels was a doozy. Watching a 1-0 pitcher’s duel with timely hitting and great fielding (especially Kelly Dugan’s first inning, wall-smashing catch in right field, and several acrobatic plays by Carlos Alonso at third base) is all you need for a good night at the ballpark — cold as it can be in April. There’s a video summary of the game here. Both Kyle Simon and Kenny Giles were money coming on in relief for the 8th and 9th innings.

Even if you’re not into baseball, paying attention to this kid as he works to become a better pitcher is worth following. Right now no one knows how good Jesse can become. That’s true of many minor leaguers. Whether you track just his progress, or some of his teammates’, or even players from other teams, these guys are working hard and doing everything they can to realize the dream of becoming a big league player. That’s not a trivial goal if you know how hard it is to achieve.

The Fightins hit the road last night and play in New Hampshire beginning tonight for a weekend stand, and then they’re on to Portland for four games next week. They return home on May 2nd. Jesse will throw on Monday, April 28 in Portland.

Last year Portland did not televise games. It looks like they’re scheduled to broadcast through MILB.TV though this year, so if you’ve got a subscription, check it out. Game time is 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time.

He’ll be throwing back home on the first weekend of May on Saturday evening.

See you out there. Seems like you should bring a blanket and lots of layers.

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