The announcement of Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Jesse Biddle skipping his previous start before he returned to Reading’s rotation against New Hampshire Tuesday night surely worried a good amount of Phillies’ fans. A majority of the fan base has seemed to give up on Biddle over the last calendar year but they shouldn’t.
Biddle has always had good stuff. His fastball command has been the biggest issue to limiting his success in my opinion, along with intermittent struggles on staying on top of his curveball and keeping it down in the zone at times. When his curve gets loopy he falls into trouble and will be susceptible to homeruns. Expectations of him becoming an ace were always unwarranted, but he has the potential to become a middle of the rotation pitcher in the majors if he can break past his struggles in AA.
After missing his previous start to work on his mechanics, Biddle threw five innings against New Hampshire Tuesday night on the road, but was pulled early despite just 63 pitches (40 strikes). In Reading’s 10-1 win, Biddle improved to 4-1 on the year and lowered his earned run average to 4.46. He struck out none and walked two, but forced a lot of early contact and even received some weak contact against some batters. He was able to get out of a fifth inning jam with one out following a Reading defensive misplay, keeping the ball low in the zone and forcing a groundball double play.
His curve was used sparingly and wasn’t very effective, however. He allowed a double when he hung the curve and it was roped into right field. Biddle allowed five hits, but a few of them were misplays by the Reading defense, which were unaccounted by the official scorers, a common occurrence in minor league baseball. This is a big reason why fans should like at the overall product, rather than just minor league stats. Using context to evaluate players is crucial when assessing minor league players.
Biddle used his changeup and slider as well, with the slider showcasing good movement, but lacked depth that many solid sliders offer. The pitcher moved more like a cutter than anything else. Biddle used his fastball for the most part in his first start in ten days, which is reasonable as the Figthin Phils and the Phillies organization probably just want him to find the strike zone and work on gaining consistency to build confidence before using breaking balls to get batters out.
Biddle gave up a homerun as his run allowed in the game, his second homer given up in 40.1 innings this season. Last year, Biddle allowed eleven homeruns in 82 innings with Reading. When he can’t find significant break and keep his curve low he is prone to giving up the long ball along when he struggles with his fastball command he when remains up in the zone.
Roman Quinn’s Development
Reading centerfielder Roman Quinn went 1-5 with a single up the middle in Reading’s 10-1 over New Hampshire Tuesday night. He’s the impact prospect that plays in the field and has been adjusting well to life in the outfield He has ridiculous speed, giving him an advantage on both the bases and when roaming centerfield. He can get to a ton of balls that the typical centerfield prospect cannot.
Hitting is a significant concern for me with Quinn, he generates his most power when batting left handed. The strikeouts (19.7%) are crucial for a potential leadoff hitter and a player that doesn’t offer much power. This limits his chances of reaching base, where he’ll be able to do the most damage. Another issue is whether he’ll be able to get on base enough. Pitchers could eventually pound him with strikes because of the lack of power, similar to that of Ben Revere. I believe Quinn could hit 5-10 homers a year in the majors if his hit tool develops and his body adds more muscle.
He’s struggled in May after a .961 OPS to open the season in April. Quinn has just a .323 OBP in May and has only four extra base hits in 95 plate appearances.
Quinn’s an exciting prospect for the Phillies, but not an all-star potential player in my opinion. He’s a guy who could contribute a ton in the bottom of the order and create a lot of havoc on the bases, which is his calling card as a prospect. The defensive impact could be significant as well and increases his value. Quinn could be a decent role player at the bottom of the order on a future contender.
Reading takes on New Hampshire on Wednesday and Thursday. Zach Eflin (4-3, 2.28 ERA) and Tom Windle (1-3, 4.69 ERA) will be on the mound for the Fightin Phils.