Biddle eager to climb Phils' next rung

Jesse Biddle, the Phils' No. 1 pick in 2010, is coming off a strong second half at Lakewood.
Jesse Biddle, the Phils' No. 1 pick in 2010, is coming off a strong second half at Lakewood. (FILE PHOTO)
Posted: January 30, 2012

LAKEWOOD, N.J. - Phillies fans who entered a Lakewood-area country club for the Phillies Winter Caravan one night last week were welcomed with opportunities to buy a baseball or picture for Jesse Biddle to sign.

It's been nearly 2 years since the Mount Airy native was drafted by his hometown team in the first round, but Biddle is still an attraction. And entering his second full season in the Phillies system, Biddle insists there's the same excitement about being affiliated with the Phillies team that there was when he was an 18-year-old who signed for a $1.16 million bonus.

"I definitely feel like another guy in the organization. I don't feel special in any way because I'm from Philadelphia or anything," Biddle said. "But I do think there's a little bit extra excitement when I go to the ballpark. I do get to wear a Phillies uniform, and not a lot of kids from Philly get to say that. That's something I take very seriously. It definitely hasn't worn off yet. It might have settled in a little bit, but there's no question every single day I wake up and feel incredible about what's happened."

Biddle spent last season here with Class A Lakewood, where he finished 7-8 with a 2.98 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 133 innings. Biddle was "relatively happy with the results," particularly in the second half of the season. Before the South Atlantic League all-star break, Biddle recorded a 4.03 ERA. After the break, it was 1.91 - an indication of how well he handled that level.

The BlueClaws' new manager is former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini, who was Biddle's father's favorite player. However, if Biddle had his way, he won't be playing for Morandini this season.

"Where I expect to be and where I'm going to be, I can't really play that game too much," Biddle said. "I would love to start in Clearwater and go from there. The fact is that the Phillies organization is one that I'm a huge fan of and trust. I signed my life away to them, and I trust that they'll do what's best for me."

He spent the offseason refining some of the intricacies of pitching, such as fielding his position and his pickoff move. Biddle admitted they're not sexy enhancements that fans would notice or will be apparent in his season-ending stat line, but they're essential in trying to improve as a total pitcher.

Biddle's offseason training has been aided by the unseasonably warm weather in Philadelphia. Now, entering his second spring training with the Phillies, Biddle has actually benefited from staying home.

"One of the things that's tough about living in the Northeast is it snows a lot during the offseason," Biddle said. "But it's been good. I'm getting all the training I need to get done. I've upped it from last year, stepped up the intensity, and I think I'm going to be going to spring training ready to go."

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