The Great Aaron Nola Experiment will be under the microscope not only of the Philadelphia Phillies, but of all of the MLB. A pitcher out of LSU and the Phillies’ first round June MLB draft pick, the No. 7 overall selection, is already under contract.
His first appearance at Citizens Bank Park will probably not be this year, but could be as early as next season and, if so, will make picking college guys the vogue of next year’s draft. That’s because there will be curiosity in scouting departments everywhere on just how good the highest level of college baseball has become over the years. It should be pretty good because Nola is being sent to high Class A Clearwater, and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that could only be a short pit stop before he’s shipped off to Double A Reading in a couple of weeks.
That makes sense, too, because many major league scouts have already said that the highest level of college baseball — which exists in the ACC, SEC and Big 10 — has risen to the Double A level over the past decade.
We’ll see if that’s the case with Nola, who was the SEC Pitcher of the Year and dominated at that conference with a 1.47 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 109 innings to go along with his 11-1 record. In addition, he held his opponents to a .172 batting average. These are the best hitters at the highest level of college baseball, and while Nola will be given an adjustment period, it should not be too difficult for him to do big things there very soon.
If he does, he could be battling for a spot in the rotation as early as next spring, and that should set off a ripple effect of raiding the Power 5 conferences for top draft picks.