Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle hopes for fast start with Reading

Lefthander Jesse Biddle , starting the season with the double-A Reading Fightin Phils, looked sharp on Friday.
Lefthander Jesse Biddle , starting the season with the double-A Reading Fightin Phils, looked sharp on Friday.
Posted: April 08, 2013

Reading lefthander Jesse Biddle is ranked as the No. 1 Phillies minor-league prospect by The Inquirer and several other publications, but he entered the season with a simple goal - to get off to a better start.

A 2010 first-round draft choice out of Germantown Friends, Biddle has had rough going the last two Aprils, first at low single-A Lakewood in 2011 and again last season at high-A Clearwater.

He went a combined 0-5 with a 6.45 ERA in those two Aprils.

But Biddle bounced back both seasons. He went 7-8 with a 2.98 in 2011 at Lakewood and 10-6 with a 3.22 ERA and a Florida State League-leading 151 strikeouts last season for Clearwater.

Now he's hoping to be consistent from start to finish.

"Every year I feel I will be able to pace myself better and be more ready for the season," Biddle said last week before an exhibition between the double-A Reading Fightin Phils and the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. "The last two Aprils I haven't been quite where I need to be for the workload that is going to happen, so right now that is where I am trying to be, and I feel like I am starting to figure that out."

That was certainly the case on Friday, a 6-1 win over the host New Hampshire Fisher Cats in his first start of the season.

Biddle allowed just one earned run and two hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked just one.

"He was totally under control the whole game," said Reading manager Dusty Wathan in a text message. "He had all of his pitches working, and his curveball was a plus, plus pitch. It was fun to watch."

Biddle, who like most competitors is always striving for more, was satisfied with his debut.

"You can always ask for better, but it was a good one," he said by phone.

He said he rode some early momentum.

"Our team got a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back," Biddle said. "We had some great defensive plays."

Biddle said he was pleased with his curveball

"As my pitching coach says, the hitters will tell you what is working, and the reaction to the curve had me using it," Biddle said.

The 6-foot-5, Biddle, 21, said he is feeling more comfortable with each season.

"I am making adjustments on the mound, learning my body, and going through some little things I tinker with," he said. "Right now I feel very confident and feel a lot better now than I have the last two years and Aprils."

Biddle is also happy to be at Reading, where more family and friends will get to watch him pitch.

The Phillies had him spend the entire 2011 season at Lakewood and all of 2012 at Clearwater. It will be interesting to see if he stays the entire season at Reading or gets a taste of triple-A action at Lehigh Valley.

"I am progressing slowly but maybe not the pace I want to be," he said. "There are a lot of things I want to get better and a lot of things I want to push to succeed in, but when it comes down to it, my coaches say they are happy with me."


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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