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2014 Phillies First Round Draft Pick - Aaron Nola, RHP

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Alex Jackson almost fell to 7, but it wasn't to be. Let's take a closer look at who the Phillies did take.

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The Phillies said earlier this week they were going to go with a different draft strategy. They did, this is very, very different. Nola just won his second straight SEC Pitcher of the year award. Nola is 6'2", 170lbs. He went 11-1 this year with a 10.37 K/9 and 2.09 BB/9. Nola's control is off the charts and he'll fit the Phillies objective of limiting Walks.

I wrote a profile of Nola almost 6 months ago. Link here, but I'll copy the pertinent details here.

So what does Nola have going for him as a Pitcher? He throws a 2-seam Fastball that probably grades out as a 55, with upside if he can add velocity without losing it's current hand side tail which runs in on right handed hitters. He current throws it in the 90-93 mph range. His second offering is a Power Curve, which is similarly about a 55 pitch, but shows the potential to be a plus pitch (60 or better) with some refinement with a staff like the Phillies that has done fairly well with curveball pitchers. His one drawback on the Curve comes from his delivery. Nola pitches with a 3/4 arm slot that borders on sidearm. That causes a few problems: For one thing, he already a little shorter than ideal for a Pitcher and the low arm slot gets rid of even more downward plane on his pitches. Secondly when he tries to work inside with the Curve on Right Handers, the ball sometimes hangs a bit. Since everyone knows what a "hanging curve" is, I probably don't need to go into detail about why that's a bad thing. It is correctable though with some coaching and a pro-workout regimen, this issue on the Fastball speed should both resolve some. His third major pitch is his change-up, which is an average offering (50 on the scouting scale), but could play up die to his 2 Seamer coming from the same arm slot.

By far Nola's best feature is his advanced pitchability. He already 'gets' pitch sequencing. He changes the hitters eye level, works corners, sets up his stuff. He's a real Pitcher, not just a thrower. A team could probably Mike Leake Nola, though a few years in the Minors to refine things would be a big help (and probably would have been for Leake, as well).

This is a pick that can come up quickly and provide value. I don't see an Ace ceiling, but Nola should be a solid #2 Starter, and he could be that tomorrow if the Phillies wanted to go that route.

 

EDIT - I meant to also note that Nola is a bit of a flyball pitcher, keep that in mind with CBP.