Aaron Nola has had early success since being drafted No. 7 overall by the Philadelphia Phillies. Nola started his professional career in Clearwater Threshers A+ throwing 31.1 innings with a 3.16 ERA and 0.94 WHIP (Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched). He has emerged as a top 50 prospect in MLB but has performed higher than expected. Being only the second player to reach Double A from the 2014 draft class — the other being Kansas City Royals‘ Brandon Finnegan — he is well on his way to reaching the Phillies roster.
Since his junior year at LSU, Nola has been dominant. With a 9.52 K/9 and a 23-2 record, his arsenal of pitches was among the top in all of collegiate baseball. Since being drafted, his individual numbers have been similar to his LSU seasons. The Phillies have been cautious, just like many organizations have been, with their top young pitchers allowing him to average just over four innings per start. With the Tommy John epidemic, the Phillies seem to ease Nola through the system and maintain his production.
The Phillies’ pitching staff is older than most clubs with Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Roberto Hernandez and Cole Hamels all 30 years of age or older. Nola and Jesse Biddle are the only signs of youth succeeding in the minors as far as pitching goes. With a fire sale likely to happen within the month and no later than within the year, Nola will be pitching in Philadelphia in no time.
Nola is expected to start Wednesday night for the Reading Fightin Phils for his first Double A start. Going forward, I see Nola performing just as he had in Clearwater. The step shouldn’t be anything that Nola isn’t used to and he could begin the 2015 season at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Nola is certainly the best prospect in the Phillies’ organization.