As a Mets fan, I normally do not tread into these parts (even though I have a secret hard-on for Amazin Avenue friend Whole Camels) but I felt compelled to share my report/thoughts on Jesse Biddle, whom I saw Friday night in Lakewood.
Originally I was drawn down to see Bryce Harper sometime this weekend, but upon seeing the pitching match ups Friday afternoon, I felt compelled to race through Garden State Parkway rush hour traffic and see Jesse Biddle v. AJ Cole (Nationals' overslot 4th rounder) duel.
Ironically enough my focus shifted from Harper to the pitchers over the course of the game, especially Jesse Biddle for both good and bad reasons.
Just to give a little report on Biddle, here's Kevin Goldstein from his Top 11:
6. Jesse Biddle, LHP
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Germantown Friends HS (PA)
2010 Stats: 4.32 ERA (33.1-35-9-41) at Rookie (9 G); 2.61 ERA (10.1-5-3-11) at Short-Seaosn (3 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/changeup
Year in Review: While he had an up-and-down spring as an amateur, Biddle still went in the first round thanks to his size, left-handedness, and potential.
The Good: Biddle's ceiling is tremendous. He already sits at 92-94 mph with his fastball, but then he shocked scouts by showing previously unseen velocity and touching 97 in the instructional league. While he's huge, he's also a good athlete with a loose arm. He has some feel for spinning a breaking ball, and earns high marks for his work ethic and attitude.
The Bad: Reports on Biddle were all over the board this spring, as he had some starts where his heat sat in the upper 80s, and his secondary pitches could be just as inconsistent. His arm slot can rise and fall from inning to inning, causing him to lose the strike zone.
Ephemera: Biddle is the only player ever drafted out of Germantown Friends, a private high school in Philadelphia, but the fictional character of Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks graduated from the school, per the script.
Perfect World Projection: Biddle easily has a star-level ceiling, but he's far from attaining it.
Fantasy Impact: Let's wait at least a year before worrying about this.
Path to the Big Leagues: Biddle will make his full-season debut at Low-A Lakewood, but multiple scouts who saw him this small labeled him a potential breakout candidate.
Here's my notes/observations from the game:
- Potential nice, easy, repeatable over-the-top delivery. Combine that with his 6'4" frame, and the mechanics looked pretty good on Friday.
- He snapped off some good looking 11-to-5 slow curveballs, striking out two hitters looking with it.
- Had six strikeouts, including freezing Bryce Harper in the first inning on a fastball on the outside corner (and picking him off first base later in the game).
- Velocity. For someone who can sit 91-94 with his fastball, I saw one of the games Goldstein described above in his criticism of Biddle. He touched 91 in the first, touched 90 once in the second, and that was it for the night. He sat 86-88, touching 89 at times, but missed up on a few fastballs that got hit hard in the second inning. It's odd because you know his frame (and various glowing reports) dictate he is capable of throwing much harder
- Arm angle/release point. He gets real wonky with his release points at times (hence potential in the delivery) especially with the curve, which for every good one he threw, he bounced another one in the dirt.
My thoughts: The 1-5 record with a 5.57 ERA may look disconcerting, but alas, he's 19 years old with an a good build and no makeup issues. I can see issue in the 18 walks he has issued in just 32.1 innings pitched, but he also misses bats (8.35 K/9) at an impressive clip, including six in six innings on Friday. He isn't prone to home runs either, as he has only allowed 3 in 74 professional innings. All in all, he has a respectable 3.42 FIP.
He is the perfect example of a high-risk, high-reward talent in that there's an equal probability he could be a 2 for the Phillies in 3-4 years or he could still be trying to figure out AA. Always bet on the tools, though, and Biddle has them in spades.