Biddle biding his time

Posted: May 16, 2014

JESSE BIDDLE was at Game 5 of the 2008 World Series at Citizens Bank Park. He celebrated just like any Phillies fan when Brad Lidge recorded the final out, sending the city into a frenzy. That evening in South Philly was the peak of Biddle's fandom, and possibly a foreshadowing of things to come.

A little more than 2 years later, Biddle had the chance to celebrate the makings of his own career with the Phillies. He heard his name called in the 2010 draft as the 27th pick of his hometown team.

"I am still trying to find the words," Biddle said. "It was amazing. I am extremely fortunate to be able to be in this situation. I try to never take that for granted."

The 22-year-old lefthander got his start in baseball through his father. Growing up in Philadelphia, he attended Germantown Friends High School, where his skills really started to flourish. Well before high school, though, Biddle was encouraged by his father to follow his dreams.

"It was always something my dad had a passion for," Biddle said. "He always really enjoyed playing baseball, and he didn't really get to play it growing up. He was kind of discouraged from doing it. It is something he wanted to instill in his kids, that we could chase our dreams on the field."

Biddle followed those dreams through high school and earned a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Oregon. But he decided to forgo moving to the West Coast in favor of starting his career with the Phillies.

While Biddle is the second-ranked prospect in the Phillies system, according to Baseball America, his young career has had its ups and downs. This year with Double A Reading, he is 3-4 with a 3.20 ERA. Consistency has been the biggest issue.

"He just has to be consistent," Reading manager Dusty Wathan said. "Look at everybody on this Double A field and at times you could say that any one of them could play in the big leagues. The big thing between guys at this level and why they are not in the big leagues is to be consistent. To be able to make adjustments on the fly and be able to do it day in and day out."

"I can go out there and have a great game one day and have a not-so-good game the next day," Biddle said. "It is just a matter of trying to figure out how to balance the two."

Finding that balance is what the minor leagues are all about. Luckily for Biddle, people are taking notice that he is doing all the right things to get himself to the next level.

"His work ethic and determination is top-notch," Reading catcher Tommy Joseph said. "He works harder than pretty much everybody on this team. It is fun to watch him the days between his starts, and then on his start days he just lets it unfold. He is a good guy. He's got a few good pitches. He is really starting to learn and hone in on those pitching skills."

When Biddle is throwing well, he is very hard to hit, with an array of pitches. His fastball is in the low 90s, and he has a devastating curveball. Wathan, who has been with Biddle for 2 years, sees the progression.

"He is maturing every day," Wathan said. "He realizes that sometimes perfection is not attainable in this game. It is a failure game and I think sometimes he puts a lot of pressure on himself to try to be perfect. He realizes now that perfection is not attainable and he does not have to be perfect to have a very successful outing and a very successful career."

All signs point to Biddle having a tremendous career.

"He is going to be a major league starter one day," Wathan said. "To say where in the rotation, I don't think it really matters. He will be one of those five guys one day and I think he will have a very successful career."

The softspoken Biddle is not looking that far ahead. Obviously, his goal is to be a major leaguer, but he is focusing on taking the small steps in the present.

"I take it one step at a time," Biddle said. "I am mostly worried about my goals as a pitcher, being able to be consistent. Throwing strikes with my fastball and getting ahead of hitters."

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