Biddle relies on his poise after bad outing

Posted: June 24, 2013

READING - Jesse Biddle understands there will be good outings sprinkled with some clunkers. But what remain the same are his confidence and poise.

The Reading lefthander had to test his confidence after Thursday's 5-2 loss to the visiting Portland Sea Dogs. Biddle, who had allowed just two earned runs in his previous two starts covering 12 innings, surrendered five runs in six innings and walked a season-high six.

He threw 104 pitches, just half for strikes.

"I never let my confidence waver," Biddle said in the Reading clubhouse afterward. "Even if I pitch like this my next outing, I will go in thinking I can pitch a perfect game and dominate."

Despite a 3-7 record, the ups have been much more frequent this season for Biddle, who is The Inquirer's No. 1 Phillies prospect and a 2010 first-round pick from Germantown Friends.

He has a 3.29 ERA and has struck out 91 and walked 42 in 791/3 innings. His WHIP (walks and hits to innings pitched ratio) is 1.20.

Biddle's velocity was holding up, in the 91-m.p.h. range in the sixth inning, but the key with him and anybody else is his command. And in his case, overcoming an illness.

"I think he is still trying to find his groove again after kind of battling that whooping cough for four to five weeks," said Joe Jordan, Phillies director of player development. "Most guys would not even have been on the mound, but because of who he is and how determined he is, he went ahead."

Biddle's season as a whole has been solid, with obvious room for improvement.

"It has been a little bit hit and miss," Reading manager Dusty Wathan said. "At times, he has been very dominant and overpowering, and at times, it has been like this game."

Jordan says Biddle might be guilty of trying too hard, especially when he gets in a jam.

"He is a young guy who needs to realize he has to learn to throttle back when he kind of loses it a little," Jordan said. "He presses forward and has to learn to slow things down."

Biddle, who will turn 22 in October, realizes that each start at the double-A level is a learning experience. And it's important for a young player to look at the overall big picture. When doing that, Biddle has a lot to build on.

"I have had a good year so far for the most part," Biddle said. "I have to move on and be ready the next time they give me the ball."

Even though Biddle struggled, he received a strong endorsement from Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who was playing at Reading on a rehab assignment.

"Jesse is a lefthander with a good fastball and good breaking ball," Utley said. "I think you might see him in Philly at some point."

The organization agrees.

The Phillies haven't rushed Biddle's development. They are being patient, knowing more nights like Thursday will happen, but confident that Biddle has the skill and perseverance to rebound.

"He has a chance to be everything we want him to," Jordan said. "And with the way he works, he will do everything he can to make it happen."

Contact Marc Narducci at Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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