Reading's Giles lighting up the radar gun

Kenny Giles tries not to look at the radar-gun readings on the scoreboard, "but if it is the last pitch of the game, I will sneak a peek," he says.
Kenny Giles tries not to look at the radar-gun readings on the scoreboard, "but if it is the last pitch of the game, I will sneak a peek," he says. (MIKE JANES / Four Seam Images)
Posted: April 14, 2014

READING - Kenny Giles elicits excitement for how hard he throws the ball from fans and teammates alike.

"We call him 100 miles Giles," Reading catcher Tommy Joseph said.

Maybe they should call him 101 miles Giles, which is the number the Reading righthander touched on the radar gun during last Sunday's 4-3 win over visiting Portland.

As if he needs any more motivation, Giles admits that he receives an extra boost when the crowd reacts to the abnormally high radar-gun readings.

"The more the crowd cheers, the more amped I get," Giles said. "It kind of gives me a big chill and goose bumps and gives me a little extra boost."

Giles admits that he doesn't try to look behind him, but he concedes that it is sometimes difficult.

He is focused on what goes on straight ahead, although the activity behind him often causes a fan frenzy. That's because in the outfield at FirstEnergy Stadium fans can see the radar-gun readings, and Giles has been known to light it up with triple-digit figures.

Once in a while even Giles gets curious as to how hard he is throwing.

"I try not to usually look, but if it is the last pitch of the game, I will sneak a peek," Giles said after recording a four-out save with three strikeouts in Wednesday's 4-1 win over New Hampshire.

In that game his fastball was a little off, recording only a couple readings of 99 on the radar gun.

Yet that was the first game that Giles used his slider more. No matter how hard he throws, a solid secondary pitch will be needed.

"To get to that next step and move up to that next level he has to be able to command his slider, throw it for strikes," Reading manager Dusty Wathan said.

On Wednesday, Giles was throwing the slider in the high 80s, a nice change of pace compared to the fastball.

"When I really get the feeling of the slider, it will be like the low 90s kind of thing and have a really good bite to it," Giles said.

Just what the opponents want to hear.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Giles opened some eyes during spring training when he was throwing some serious gas during a mid-February bullpen session. A nonroster invitee, Giles also enjoyed a productive spring training, recording a 2.08 ERA in 41/3 innings over four appearances. Giles struck out five and walked three before being sent down to the minor-league camp.

"I wasn't trying to do too much during spring training, and I went out there to open some eyes, get some eyes on me, and have some fun," he said.

Giles, who turns 24 in September, is seen as a potential Phillies closer in the future. A seventh-round pick in the 2011 draft, Giles spent two separate stints on the disabled list with an oblique injury last year while at high-single-A Clearwater. Giles struck out 34 in just 252/3 innings (6.31 ERA) but also walked 19.

Giles said he was never 100 percent until the last few weeks of the season. He then pitched in the Arizona Fall League and said that made him sharp for spring training, where he pitched so well, a pattern he has continued at Reading.

Entering the weekend he had saves in all three scoreless appearances covering 31/3 innings. Giles had recorded nine strikeouts while walking just one.

When Giles was sent to minor-league camp, he received simple advance from the Phillies' decision-makers.

"They told me to just go out and throw strikes and have some fun," he said.

At this point, Giles has heeded that advice.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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