Jesse Biddle is truly a homegrown talent in Philadelphia’s organization, and he’s getting a small taste this season of what it would be like to pitch for the Phillies.
Playing in the low-Class A South Atlantic League for the Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws, the 2010 first-round pick is close enough for family and friends to watch him perform. Raised in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, his first full-season stop is only 65 miles from home.
In Biddle’s Sally League debut, he allowed two runs (one earned) in 4 2 / 3 innings in a 4-1 home loss to Kannapolis. His girlfriend, younger brother, mother and father and a few friends were there, and had it not been for a rainout the previous day, other family members would have joined them.
“At the beginning [after being drafted 27th overall by the Phillies], it definitely was different than being your typical minor leaguer,” said the 19-year-old Biddle. “But at this point, being close to home is only an advantage. I definitely still have a certain nostalgia for the Phillies, but now a lot of the attention has died down.”
Though Biddle had lived his whole life in the same house, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound left-hander signed with Oregon before the Phillies lured him away with a $1.16 million bonus.
“For some reason, I was always infatuated with Pac-10 baseball,” said Biddle, who played for a Northern California-based travel team when he was 16. “With the facilities and the coaches at Oregon, that would’ve been a great experience.”
Instead, Biddle’s taking long bus trips,such as the eight-hour one from Hagerstown, Md., to Asheville, N.C., on Monday.
“That doesn’t bother me at all,” Biddle said. “You’re definitely always in a good mood because you’re still playing baseball. I’m having a good time.”
Now if he could just improve on the five-inning, five-run showing he had in a loss to the Nationals-affiliated Suns on Sunday. “He’s still young and having some bumps in the road, but he shows a good arm with a good fastball and a nice curveball,” said Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk, a former Phillie. “He’s been working on his change-up, and that’s gotten better. He’s a competitor who works hard and takes to instruction very well.”