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Phillies promote Aaron Nola to AAA Lehigh Valley

He's not in The Show yet, but he's one step closer.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies' best pitching prospect is one step away from the Majors.

During the Phils' 1-0 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Sunday, the team announced they were calling up the right-hander to AAA Lehigh Valley, who in 12 starts went 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA for the Reading Fightins. His 76 2/3 innings pitched were more than any other player in the Eastern League, and his 1.88 ERA was third-best. His 59 strikeouts ranked fifth, and he walked just nine batters so far this year, good for a WHIP of 0.89, which ranked second.

Folks, he was ready.

His call-up to Lehigh now sets up a possible call up to the Phillies later this season. He pitched only five innings in his last start, as the team likely wants to limit him to somewhere between 170-180 innings pitched this year. He also had his previous turn in the rotation skipped before Saturday's start, giving him eight days off in between.

Clearly, the Phils want to see him get some big league innings under his belt in September.

Nola was the team's first-round draft pick last season, taken 7th overall from LSU. He was the most Major League-ready of all the pitchers in last year's draft, and his accelerated race through the Phils' farm system has only backed up that initial belief.

So now, Nola moves onto Lehigh Valley, where he will be the youngest player on the Iron Pigs roster at just 22 years old.

While some may be disappointed Nola didn't get the call to the big leagues today, president Pat Gillick and general manager Ruben Amaro are taking their time with their prized pitching possession, moving him through the farm system slowly, which makes all the sense in the world.

Nola is probably ready to pitch at the big league level, but at just 22, and with the team not competing for a postseason roster, letting him get some AAA innings under his belt is the wisest and safest course of action.

Have patience, Phils fans. Nola will be here soon.