A few days before Jesse Biddle was picked as a first-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Phillies, he took the mound in a non-league game in the suburbs of Philadelphia against a high school team called Germantown Academy.
Biddle, representing Germantown Friends, lost that game, 5-3. At the time, it seemed like no big deal because Biddle was among the most dominating high school pitchers the Philadelphia area had ever seen, but it should have been a major red flag. Going against Germantown Academy represented a step up in the competition for Biddle, who played in a very small private league of Friends Schools teams.
Germantown Academy, on the other hand, represented the Inter-Ac League, a larger group of private schools that usually recruited the best athletes.
Since that day, though, Biddle has become a major bust for the Phillies and has proven to be unworthy of a first-round pick. The fact that the Phillies could have used that selection on a college pitcher who proved himself against much stiffer competition at the time has to be haunting the organization right now, and with good reason.
Biddle has seen nothing but stiffer competition since he left high school, and the competition has gotten the better of him — much more than they should vs. a first-round pick. This year, Biddle is 3-7 with a 4.06 ERA in double-A Reading (Pa.). He’s been languishing in the low minors for four seasons, and the Phillies could demote him to Class-A Clearwater (Fla.) soon.
Whatever the scouts saw in Biddle should have been tempered by the competition then, because it certainly is the case now.