Why Philadelphia Phillies Should See Red Flags in Top Pitching Prospect Jesse Biddle


Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For the last three or four years, it’s been pretty much a given that top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle of the Philadelphia Phillies would be a rather hurried path to the Pattison Avenue address of Citizens Bank Park.

After all, Biddle was a high school superstar in the city of Philadelphia for Germantown Friends, a prep school, and the Phillies No. 1 pick in the June 2010, major league draft. His fastball topped out at 97 miles per hour.

Since then, though, Biddle offered plenty of red flags for the Phillies to be concerned about. They still should be, even though GM Ruben Amaro Jr. promoted him to the 40-man major league roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

The first and most important red flag is that Biddle cannot get minor leaguers out. His numbers are far from impressive, especially for a No. 1 pick. In Class AA ball at Reading (Pa.), Biddle finished with a 4-12 record before being shut down. You expect No. 1 picks to go 12-4, not 4-12.

His lack of command is another red flag and, although this is common for young left-handers, some of them never get the hang of the strike zone. Last year, Biddle walked 82 batters in 138 1/3 innings, an average of 5.3 per nine innings. The Phillies have to hope that’s an oddity and not an unbreakable habit.

No one expects that just because Biddle is on the 40-man roster he will be there by the opening game of the season. In fact, he’ll probably end up with Triple-A Lehigh Valley (Pa.) with one more year to prove he’s the kind of top-of-the-line pitcher the Phillies drafted. If he doesn’t cut it this season at the top levels of the minors, he risks becoming another home town guy the Phils drafted who did not work out.

Mike Gibson is a Phillies writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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  • Ben K.

    This is one of the most ignorant baseball articles I’ve ever read.

    Biddle “cannot get minor leaguers out”? Really? He struck out more than a batter per inning in AA and only allowed a .210 BAA with a decent ERA. Clearly he got plenty of minor leaguers out. Then to further demonstrate his lack of understanding, the author uses Biddle’s W-L record to prove that he’s been ineffective? Reading, Biddle’s team for 2013, had the worst record in the Eastern League at 62-80, the second lowest number of runs scored and the lowest team OBP. With Biddle’s stats and his team’s record, it’s not hard to figure out that he frequently didn’t get much run support. In this day and age, any baseball analyst who still uses a pitcher’s W-L record to draw a picture of his effectiveness has shown beyond all doubt that he knows not of what he writes.

    Also, contrary to what the article says, Biddle still hasn’t been put on the 40-man roster! See here: http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/team/roster_40man.jsp?c_id=phi Maybe get your facts straight? Even if Biddle had been added to the 40-man roster, it wouldn’t have been to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, because he isn’t eligible for that draft until after the 2014 season.

    Furthermore, the author makes it clear that he doesn’t even understand what the 40-man roster is! By saying, “No one expects that just because Biddle is on the 40-man roster he will be there by the opening game of the season. In fact, he will end up with Triple-A Lehigh Valley,” he demonstrates that he is utterly clueless. The 25-man roster is the roster of active major league players. There are 15 other players on the 40-man roster that are playing at some level of the minors. So, if Biddle was on the 40-man roster, he could still play in AAA without being removed from the 40-man.

    I know anyone can write on a blog, but it you are going to purport to be a baseball expert, perhaps you should actually have a working knowledge of the sport?

  • Bob Loblaw

    I gotta agree with Ben. I’m not going to be nearly as verbose, but . . .this article is absolutely horrible The kid had some injuries and played with illness for half the season.