What a Father’s Day. All week long, my family and I looked forward to this game and all week long it looked like it was going to be a wash out. But much to our surprise, the skies cleared up and the sun came out and baseball was played. Attending this game would mean that we were fortunate enough to have seen all 5 members of the Reading rotation live and in person. And it’s only June! To complete the task, we saw Jesse Biddle throw against the Portland SeaDogs. Biddle takes more of a beating than most of the other starters combined by both fans and media and I was curious to get a look at the 2015 version. This is probably the healthiest he’s been in two seasons and his arsenal has changed slightly, adding a tighter, sweeping slider and using his loopy curveball much less often. But before I cover Biddle, its Reading so you know there are plenty of prospects to talk about. So, here’s what I saw.
Kelly Dugan – It is so good to see Kelly back in Baseballtown. I’ve said many times to many people how much I love watching him hit. His approach is consistent and solid and outside of a lack of power, profiles well in the upper levels. Having just returned for an off season foot injury, this was our first look at Kelly in 2015. Not much has changed in my estimation since 2014. Kelly really looked patient and didn’t chase pitches. He attacked the pitches he liked and made solid contact. Everything I saw previously and expect to continue to see. I can’t imagine they can keep him out of Lehigh Valley for too long.
Aaron Altherr – Speaking of the Pigs, at the time of this writing, Aaron has since been promoted, and its richly deserved. Seeing him in this game just further showed what an improvement he’s made at the plate. I figured it wouldn’t be long and it wasn’t. I’m looking very much forward to seeing what AAA life is like for him.
J.P. Crawford – This name will start fading from my Eye Test pieces in the near future. There’s nothing more to add on him. He stands out among a group of kids older than he is, and by a decent margin. His approach is impeccable, and his defense has been better than advertised. What stood out to me in this game was his baserunning. Turns out he’s excellent in that area as well. What else do we need to know?
Jesse Biddle – Let me start by saying you won’t find many bigger Jesse Biddle fans than me. Yes, I recognize his walks need to decrease and he has other faults as well but I like his demeanor on most occasions. If there was ever a game that will test a Biddle fan’s patience, it was this one. And I still came away impressed. Biddle really tried to establish his fastball early in counts but was largely unsuccessful, missing low more times than I can recall. Working from behind to almost every batter is a recipe for disaster, but Biddle mixed in his breaking balls VERY effectively on this afternoon and was able to induce weak contact consistently. I really liked how he used his curveball early in counts rather than as a put away pitch. That’s where his new, tighter slider came into play more. Again, with solid results. While the five walks and high pitch count had to be frustrating, allowing only three hits and ZERO runs in five innings of work showed me that Jesse knows how to battle. In my eyes, if he can lessen the self induced jams he gets into, Jesse Biddle is a much better than AA pitcher. Therein lies the riddle that defines Jesse.
So, that was my latest trip to Reading. “Bring your Camera” day was also a highlight (the players paraded around the plaza taking pictures with the Kids Club members) but seeing the Fightins pick up a win with their pitchers struggling is always good. I wish we lived a little closer because I could live at this ballpark! Until next time…