Tag Archives: Jesse Biddle

Phillies must smartly out-spend Braves to keep up with Atlanta’s young talent

Acuna (20) will be a thorn in the Phillies
sides for years to come

(Photo: By Thomson200 via Wiki Commons)
In the end, that the Braves first overcame and then pulled away from the Phillies should not have been much of a shock. Atlanta has played far better baseball all season long.
My first MLB Power Ranking back on July 1 had the Braves as baseball’s fourth best team, second in the National League, while the Phillies were 23rd. While the Phillies would get as high as 16th, the Braves never dropped lower than 6th overall.
Those rankings consider not only the team’s win-loss record, but also their performances on offense, defense, and on the mound. The Braves now hold a 9.5 game lead in the standings on the Phillies, who are in danger of being passed by the Washington Nationals for second place.
A position-by-position comparison of the regulars for the two teams reveals that the Braves are simply a more talented ball club. In most cases they are also younger, showing that the Phillies rivals won’t be going away soon.
First base: 29-year-old Freddie Freeman (ATL) over 32-year-old Carlos Santana (PHI)
Second base: 21-year-old Ozzie Albies (ATL) over 28-year-old Cesar Hernandez (PHI)
Shortstop: 24-year-old Dansby Swanson (ATL) over 24-year-old, out-of-position Scott Kingery (PHI)
Third base: 24-year-old Johan Camargo (ATL) at least a push vs 26-year-old Maikel Franco (PHI)
Catcher: 34-year-old Kurt Suzuki (ATL) at least a push vs 25-year-old Jorge Alfaro (PHI), though if 31-year-old Wilson Ramos returns next year the edge goes to the Phillies
Left field: 20-year-old Ronald Acuna (ATL) over 25-year-old, out-of-position Rhys Hoskins (PHI)
Center field: 27-year-old Ender Inciarte (ATL) over 26-year-old Odubel Herrera (PHI), though for me if 25-year-old Roman Quinn is the Phillies everyday center fielder, it’s at least a push, maybe even advantage Phillies
Right field: 34-year-old Nick Markakis (ATL) over 25-year-old Nick Williams (PHI)
The Phillies are appreciably younger only at catcher and in right field. They are better behind the plate if Ramos is the Phillies catcher, even though Hoskins (with the bat only) and Quinn keep the Phillies competitive at their positions.
On the mound, 25-year-old Aaron Nola gives the Phillies the best starting pitcher in either rotation. However, Braves top starter Mike Foltynewicz (26) is pretty darned close. Atlanta’s Anibal Sanchez (34) out-pitched the Phillies Jake Arrieta (32) as the aging veterans in each rotation this year.
The Braves have a veritable parade of starting pitching options with a wide range of experience including Julio Teheran(27), Kevin Gausman (27), Sean Newcomb (25), Max Fried (24), Touki Toussaint (22), Kyle Wright (22), Luiz Gohara(22), Mike Soroka (21), Bryse Wilson (20), and Ian Anderson (20).
It’s an embarrassment of riches that the Phillies group of Vince Velasquez (26), Nick Pivetta (25), Zach Eflin (24), Jerad Eickhoff (28), Ranger Suarez (23), Enyel De Los Santos (22) may have a hard time matching up against.

Even if the Phillies accelerate the development of top pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez (20) and Adonis Medina (21), something they never do, the depth and quality in Atlanta looks better.
In the bullpen the Braves have an excellent combination of righty Arodys Vizcaino (27) and lefty A.J. Minter (25) leading a solid group where most of the arms are still in their 20’s. That group includes a former Phillies top pitching prospect and Philly native in 26-year-old lefty Jesse Biddle.
The Phillies pen has some exciting young arms in Seranthony Dominguez (23), Victor Arano (23), Edubray Ramos (25), and Austin Davis (25). Veterans Pat Neshek (38), Tommy Hunter (32), and Adam Morgan (28) give the Phillies a chance to have at least as good a bullpen as Atlanta moving forward.
Considering their advantages across the lineup and the ages of their talent among their position players and pitchers, how can we expect the Phillies to compete with the Braves in the coming years?
The biggest reason is one of the oldest: money. The Phillies have the financial ability to out-spend Atlanta in the coming years. They also have a controlling owner in John Middleton who is not only willing to spend, but who is also extremely desirous to spend what it takes to make the Phillies a legitimate contender once again.
The Phillies have the money, the incentive, and the lineup positional needs to go hard after the two biggest free agent bats this coming off-season in shortstop Manny Machado and right fielder Bryce Harper.
They could also spring for a big free agent starting pitcher such as Patrick CorbinDallas KeuchelJ.A. Happ, or Gio Gonzalez. That might allow them to shift Velasquez to the bullpen as another late inning weapon.
Though the 2018 season is ending in disappointing fashion for the Phillies, the fact is that it was a definite step forward. After five years finishing near the bottom of Major League Baseball, the club will finish near the .500 mark. They will also have gained some valuable experience in a playoff battle that came down to the final weeks.
The challenge that the Braves will present over the next few years is very real. In order to match or beat them, the Phillies are going to need their own young talented players and prospects to continue developing.
But they are also going to need to open their wallets and push aggressively for the top free agents. Win the financial battle in the front office, and they can overcome the Braves own bright future on the field.

Phillies 2016 Lefty Bullpen Options

Somewhat surprisingly, the Phillies have announced that starting rotation candidate Brett Oberholtzer is being moved to the bullpen, leaving the 5th starter battle as a head-to-head showdown between Adam Morgan and Vincent Velasquez.
Besides the obvious effect on that rotation battle, the move of Oberholtzer to the pen also muddles an already intense battle for relief pitcher spots. 
Other lefties who have been fighting for a role include incumbent Elvis Araujo and newcomers Bobby LaFromboiseDaniel Stumpf, and James Russell.
Oberholtzer would appear to be a lock to head north once the regular season opens. He has big league experience, is out of minor league options, and his experience as a starting pitcher would suggest that he could provide multiple innings in an emergency.
Assuming that Oberholtzer has a spot as a left-hander, the club would appear to have room for no more than one or two more southpaws. To this point, the three newbies have clearly out-performed the holdover Araujo.
Araujo has allowed five earned runs on four hits across 4.2 innings over five Grapefruit League appearances to this point. He has walked three and struck out three thus far.
The 24-year old made his big league debut with the Phillies last season and was mostly effective, allowing just 29 hits over 40 appearances in which he threw 34.2 innings with a 34/19 K:BB ratio.

Stumpf, who was profiled at TBOH just yesterday by our Mike Azzalina in an ongoing series on the Phillies bullpen candidates, has been the arm that the club has been trying to evaluate the most during the spring. 
He has pitched a pen-high nine innings, allowing 10 hits and four earned runs with a 9/3 K:BB ratio.
The 25-year old Stumpf was the Phillies’ 2nd round choice in December’s Rule 5 Draft from the Kansas City Royals organization. 
He must remain on the big league roster all season, or the Phils would need to either offer him back to Kansas City or try to work out a trade in order to keep him.
LaFromboise has been outstanding to this point in spring. The 29-year old has yet to allow a hit or run over his first six appearances and 7.1 impressive innings. He has also registered an effective 8/3 K:BB ratio.
The Phillies originally added LaFromboise back at the end of January in a move that caused them to release former prospect Jesse Biddle, who just signed with the Atlanta Braves organization. 
He has appeared in parts of the last three seasons with both the Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Russell is by far the most experienced of the left-handers in this fight. The 30-year old has tossed 330.1 innings in Major League Baseball across parts of six seasons spent mostly with the Chicago Cubs. 
He has pitched little this spring, allowing two hits over just three innings with a 4/0 K:BB ratio.
The Phillies want to see more of Russell now that the season is fast approaching. They have scheduled him for a starting appearance on Saturday afternoon at Bright House Field against the Detroit Tigers in what will be an opportunity to give him at least two innings of work.
Mario Hollands is another left-hander who could eventually push himself into consideration for a role at some point in the 2016 season. 
The 27-year old Hollands is getting set to make his way back from Tommy John surgery last spring, will start out in the minors, and should be ready at some point this summer. 
He tossed 47 innings over 50 appearances with the Phillies back in the 2014 season.
At this point, I would rank the Phillies left-handed options in this order: Oberholtzer, LaFromboise, Stumpf, Russell, and Araujo. 
The middle three arms are so close at this point that performances and health over the final two weeks of spring could become the decisive factor. 
Araujo appears headed to the AAA Lehigh Valley bullpen come April.

Hard to See Why Phillies Traded for Taylor Featherston

The Philadelphia Phillies added more depth to their infield options in a minor trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Coming to the Phils is 26-year old infielder Taylor Featherston, who filled a utility infielder role with the Halos during his rookie season in Major League Baseball a year ago.

During that 2015 campaign, Featherston appeared in 39 games at 3rd base, 33 games at 2nd base, and another 22 games at shortstop. 
He hit for just a .162/.212/.247 slash line over 169 plate appearances in 101 total games while producing a pair of home runs. He drove in nine runs, scored 23 times, and stole four bases in six attempts.
The Phillies didn’t pay anything to acquire his services – yet. The deal calls for the Phils to send a player to be named later, or cash considerations, to the Angels at some point.

Born in Houston, Texas, Featherston attended Katy High School in the Houston suburbs. 
He was the Colorado Rockies selection in the 5th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of Texas Christian University.
In December of 2014, Featherston was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft. The Angels purchased him from the Cubs that same day. 
Over parts of five minor league seasons, Featherston produced a .274/.343/.453 slash line with 43 homers, 103 doubles, 254 runs scored, 212 RBI, and 49 steals in 1,542 plate appearances.
The Angels had designated Featherston for assignment in early February in order to make room for the signing of pitcher Christian Freidrich. 
In order to fit him on to their own 40-man roster, the Phillies designated pitcher Bobby LaFromboise, whose signing had been the impetus for the DFA and trade of former 1st round draft pick Jesse Biddle to the Pirates last week.
So in effect now, the Phillies gave up on Biddle in order to add Featherston and Yoervis Medina, the pitcher whom they obtained from Pittsburgh. 
This brings up a legitimate question: why the interest in Featherston?
Featherston is a defense-first infielder at this stage of his career. Just one year ago,Taylor Blake Ward wrote up Featherston for Scout.com, the full report on him can be read at that previous link. Here are a few excerpts:

Featherston has a quick stride and direct path to the ball in his swing, which allows him to put the ball from gap to gap. He also has quick hands which allows him to make contact even on bad judgement swings and foul them off with ease, as well as put balls down the lines and into the gaps with even more ease.”

Featherston hits the gaps well, and may have one of the better line drive swings in the system, which added with his speed, has resulted in a multitude of doubles. Don’t be surprised to see Featherston tag double digit home runs in the future though, he’s got the swing and athletic frame for it.

Featherston has a great range and quick first step towards any ball in the infield. He has the ability to play second base, third base and shortstop with ease on any given day. His glove is all around good, and his arm is even better. He uses that plus athleticism to dig for balls in hard hit spots, and can retrieve nearly everything hit in his general direction and sometimes beyond it.

The full squad of position players is due to report to Bright House Field in a week and a half. The infield heading into spring should include Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf splitting 1st base, Cesar Hernandez at 2nd, Freddy Garcia at short, and Maikel Franco at 3rd base. 
Both Darnell Sweeney and Andres Blanco will be around for depth, and of course Cody Asche can still play 3rd base. 
Featherston has to be considered cheap competition for a backup infield spot, as well as insurance. He is in no way a big piece of the rebuilding program, so fans have nothing here to get excited about. 
However, since it appears that he cost little or nothing, other than the release of LaFromboise, it can’t hurt.
What the Phillies are doing here is a classic example of stirring up the bottom. Theirs was a 40-man roster that produced the worst record in Major League Baseball a year ago. 
If they can make their 40th player better at every chance they get, short of exposing prospects to that process before necessary, there is no reason not to do so.

Jesse Biddle Dealt from Phillies to Pirates

The Philadelphia Phillies have traded a former first round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Homegrown lefty pitcher Jesse Biddle, recently removed from the 40-man rosterand recovering from Tommy John surgery that will keep him out for the entirety of the 2016 season, was dealt away according to a report by Philly.com’s Matt Gelb.
The Phillies had designated the 24-year old for assignment last Friday, and had 10 days in which to either trade or release him, or expose him to waivers. 
That move had been made after the club signed free agent lefty reliever Bobby LaFromboise.
There was much speculation at the time that the team would attempt to get him through waivers, and return him to their minor league system until his recovery from the surgery.
However, it apparently became obvious to the Phillies that Biddle was not going to make it through waivers. 
Simply releasing him would have meant that they would receive nothing for their 1st round choice at 27th overall in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
It has not been announced as yet what the Phils will receive in return from the Bucs, but that return is not expected to be substantial.

Biddle was recently interviewd for a piece by Bob Brookover at Philly.com, and reported that he pitched through pain because he felt like he was close to the big leagues, and saw that the Phils were bringing in a lot more young talent.
“The feeling like I was close” was his thought, per Brookover. 

I thought I just needed to string together some really good starts. But by the end of the season I was just worn out. But I made the choice to go out there and pitch and that’s what is on the back of my baseball card. It was my decision.

Biddle grew up in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, and was drafted out of Germantown Friends High School after his graduation in June of 2010. 
He turned down an opportunity to attend the University of Oregon on a baseball scholarship to sign for a $1.16 million bonus with his hometown Phillies.
By 2012, Biddle had become the #1 prospect in the Phillies minor league organization. In April of 2013, Biddle set a team record with AA Reading when he struck out 16 batters in just 7 innings. 
He advanced as far as the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs last summer, and there was some speculation that he could receive a September call to the big leagues.
At the time that he was DFA’d last week, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak stated: “If we’re able to slip him through waivers, we’ll be happy to keep him,” according to the Gelb article, further stating: “If not, we’ll be happy to put him in an opportunity that is good for him.”
It appears that the Phillies have done the latter, placing him with a Pittsburgh organization that will, at least for now, be able to keep him on their 40-man roster until his surgery recovery. 
It is expected that, barring any major setbacks, Biddle will be able and ready to participate when 2017 spring training camps open.

Could Jesse Biddle Become a Phillies September Rotation Option?

With the Phillies rapidly running out of time in the ‘Dog Days’ of August, a calendar change to the month of September could bring some changes to the starting pitching rotation as the team moves through the final five weeks of the 2015 season.
To this point, 13 different pitchers have received at least one starting assignment in the Phillies rotation: Aaron Harang (22), Jerome Williams (21), Cole Hamels (20), Sean O’Sullivan (13), Adam Morgan (11), David Buchanan (10), Aaron Nola (7), Chad Billingsley (7), Severino Gonzalez (7), Kevin Correia (5), Jerad Eickhoff (2), Dustin McGowan (1), Phillippe Aumont (1).
Many fans have grown weary of the sight of Harang and Williams parading out to the mound. The two journeymen are here for no other reason than to soak up innings. They are in no way connected to the hoped-for brighter future that everyone wants to see get underway sooner, rather than later.
With the team having turned the page on the past with the trades of Chase UtleyCole Hamels, and Jimmy Rollins since the end of 2014, not to mention both Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere, there is a growing impatience for that future.
If nothing else, the appearance at Citizens Bank Park this week of the first place New York Mets and their vaunted young pitching rotation is a reminder of just how quickly the fortunes of a team can turn around when a strong group of arms is brought along to tame the opposition.
The Phillies had a few good prospect arms already in their system, and with the draft and trade acquisitions of the last year, those options have grown into a legitimate stable of promising young hurlers. But how many of the youngsters might actually be ready to help in the big leagues, sooner rather than later?
While fans, including me, would much rather see young, MLB-ready or near-ready arms such as 21-year olds Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin, or 23-year olds Alec Asher and Ben Lively, in the September rotation instead of Harang or Williams, the facts would not seem to make such a thing preferable.
None of those pitchers is currently on the 40-man roster. In order to bring them up, the Phillies would need to drop someone from that roster. 
While it could be argued that they could drop Harang or Williams, or some other player such as Domonic Brown, and not be hurt, that simply is not likely.
The bottom line on such a move is, as Phillies prospect expert Matt Winkelman pointed out last week, unnecessary.
The facts are that this is a completely lost season, and the Phillies have enough healthy options on the current 25-man and 40-man rosters to finish out the season. However, when we examine that 40-man roster, it does include one intiguing name.
23-year old lefty Jesse Biddle was the Phillies 1st round pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft, the 27th overall selection that year. 
In the five years since, Biddle’s rise through the club’s farm system has been in fits and starts. Without going through all the histrionics, let’s bring him to the present.
In 2015, Biddle has made 23 starts across two levels at AA and AAA. In 120.2 innings he has allowed 137 hits, and has an 87-59 K:BB ratio. 
These are in no way eye-popping or even confidence-inspiring numbers. There is no way that Biddle has “earned” his way to the Big Leagues at this point.
Phillies current GM Ruben Amaro was recently quoted by Jim Salisbury on the possibility of a Biddle look in September: “He’s been talked about,” Amaro said. “He hasn’t performed well enough to be considered yet, but you never know.
However, he has a couple of things in his favor. He is on that 40-man roster already. He is age and level-appropriate for such a promotion. He was a #1 draft pick of the organization. He is a Philly native who would make a nice public relations story, at least for a short time.
The likelihood of anyone getting called up from AA Reading is slim. The Fightin’ Phils are in the playoffs, which will begin the 2nd week of September. No one is going to be made available from that roster until the final two weeks of the MLB season, if at all.
The Phillies are indeed looking at the workload of youngsters Nola, Morgan, and Eickhoff. They are frankly much more likely to try to get through the season mixing that trio with the two vets in Harang and Williams, and subbing in both Gonzalez and Buchanan over the final weeks.
With those seven arms the most likely to make up a Phillies rotation in the 2015 season’s final month, if you want to look for a dark horse candidate to emerge from among the young guns in the minor leagues, Jesse Biddle might just be the one to actually get that shot.