Biddle enjoyed a taste of big-league camp

Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 20, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Lefthander Jesse Biddle prepared for another day with the rest of the Phillies' minor-league players in a crowded clubhouse that contained prospects of all levels.

The team's first-round draft choice out of Germantown Friends in 2010, Biddle said he enjoyed his brief time in the major-league camp this year. Even though he did not achieve the results he wanted in his two outings, Biddle feels he will be better for the experience.

Biddle, 22, was sent down to the minor-league camp on March 8. He was not disappointed because he knows the landscape.

"They need their guys to get innings," he said of the Phillies pitchers.

Biddle spoke before another early morning workout; the minor-leaguers usually are at the park by 7 a.m. He enthusiastically described his short experience down the street with the big-league club.

"It was amazing," he said. "The big thing I learned was kind of what it takes to be a big-leaguer, their everyday approach to preseason work, and that is something I worked on."

This is Biddle's fourth spring training but the first in which he reported to the big-league camp. He has had his ups and downs as he moves through the Phillies system, but through it all Biddle remains focused on his goal of playing for his hometown team.

Biddle did not ask the veterans many questions, knowing that they have a season to prepare for as well. Yet he was like a sponge, taking in everything the players did, especially the serious approach they brought each day.

"To be able to see how they do it - the guys who are veterans - it is going to help me build my program for the rest of the year," he said.

In two appearances with the Phillies covering three innings, Biddle allowed five hits and four earned runs, striking out three and walking two.

"I didn't necessarily pitch as well as I would have liked to, but when I showed them good stuff, that is what I am going to take away from it," he said.

Biddle said he has not been told whether he will start the season at double-A Reading or triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Last season was a year of highs and lows for Biddle. He posted a 5-14 record at Reading but had a solid 3.64 ERA and averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings.

In some outings, he was simply unhittable. In April, he struck out 16 and allowed just one hit over seven innings in a 3-2 win at the Harrisburg Senators.

"I think he needs to just trust his stuff," said one scout who has seen Biddle through the years. "Because he has really good stuff."

Biddle said he is 100 percent now after a season in which he suffered through whooping cough and developed plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

Top catching prospect Tommy Joseph is in the minor-league camp with Biddle. Joseph believes that Biddle's first big-league camp should have a major impact.

"He got to be around a lot of good guys in big-league spring training, and I am sure it helped him out," Joseph said. "And if he can stay healthy, he will be something to watch."

Extra bases

The Phillies acquired catcher Koyie Hill from Washington for a player to be named or cash. Hill, 35, has played in 331 major-league games but is expected to serve as a reserve catcher for the Phillies at triple A or double A. He essentially replaces Lou Marson, who was released last week. . . . The Phillies returned righthander Kevin Munson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Munson, 25 was a Rule 5 selection in December. In seven exhibition innings he had a 1.29 ERA with six strikeouts and eight walks.

Shortstop J.P. Crawford, the Phillies' first-round pick last year, has come to camp looking bigger and stronger. Crawford, who finished last season at single-A Lakewood, says he is 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. "I went to the gym with a couple of friends every morning" in the offseason, Crawford said.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

Staff writer Matt Gelb contributed to this article.

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