Nola's pitching coach offers high praise

LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, whom the Phillies picked No. 7 overall, throws in an NCAA Super Regional game. AP Photo / Gerald Herbert
LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, whom the Phillies picked No. 7 overall, throws in an NCAA Super Regional game. AP Photo / Gerald Herbert
Posted: June 08, 2014

A coach who played an integral role in the development of Phillies first-round draft choice Aaron Nola gave the righthanded pitcher and No. 7 overall selection from LSU the highest of praise.

"They really got a special pitcher," Alan Dunn, the pitching coach for LSU, said Friday in a phone interview. "Not only a special pitcher but tremendous young man. So when you combine the two, you really have what a first-round pitcher is all about."

Dunn has worked extensively at the professional level, including a stint from 2007-10 as the Baltimore Orioles bullpen coach.

"Aaron's biggest asset is his ability to command the strike zone with three pitches," Dunn said.

Those pitches are fastball, curve, and change-up.

When asked if Nola has the ability to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher with the Phillies, Dunn was hesitant, but it had nothing to do with Nola's ability.

"It is so hard to say what a guy is going to be," Dunn said. "All I know: He keeps his pitches down in the zone very well, which is a huge part of pitching, and he is a strike-throwing machine, which is important."

In 1161/3 innings, Nola went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA. He struck out 134 and walked 27.

"I think his ceiling is so high once he learns what pro baseball is all about, pitching every fifth day, the travel and all that goes with it," Dunn said.

On Thursday, Marti Wolever, the Phillies assistant general manager, amateur scouting, said that Nola was especially impressive commanding his fastball on both sides of the plate. Dunn said those who locate on both sides of the plate are often characterized as finesse pitchers. But that isn't the case with Nola, he said.

"He pitched 92-93 pretty much all the time and could dial it up to get even more velocity," Dunn said. "He was able to pitch in the zone at that velocity, and for me, that is pretty solid velocity."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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