An Early Look at Jesse Biddle
Let’s skip the intro paragraph fluff and just get into what Jesse Biddle looked like this week.
Oh, wait I kid of do need to preface all this by saying that it’s horrendously cold at night up here in PA and so the early season rust and cold weather caveats apply to all observations at this point in the season. Ok, let’s begin.
Biddle sat mostly 90-92 with the fastball and did an excellent job of keeping it down early in his start (something he struggled with last year) before living up in the zone a little too much late. It doesn’t have much horizontal movement to it, but the plane Biddle creates when he’s able to work down in the zone with it should be enough to make it a 55 offering. The problem for Biddle is keeping the fastball down with consistency. It seems to me that he’s more able to do so when he really gets over his front side and collapses his body down toward home and the ground during his release and follow through. When he finishes his delivery in a more upright fashion, the ball sails. This problem is compounded by the way Biddle’s arm comes through a little bit late in relationship with the rest of his body. Things aren’t perfect yet with the fastball control but at least things seem to be on the right track based on this start.
The way Biddle used the secondary stuff in this contest was very intriguing. He was changeup heavy in the early going and it was the best it had ever looked for me, looking like an average Major League pitch with a few 55s thrown in there. It sat in the 81-83mph range, Biddle sold it with good arm speed and a few of them had swing and miss action. It could be a future above average offering and I think it will supplant his curveball as his offspeed weapon of choice if/when he reaches maturity in the big leagues.
While that’s my hope, it wasn’t true on this night as Biddle began to rely heavily on the breaking ball as his start progressed. The pitch is the same big-breaking rainbow we’ve seen from Biddle in the past, though he’s throwing them a little harder now. It wasn’t the best curveball I’ve ever seen from Biddle, more of an about average offering, but still useful at this level.
He did throw what looked like a slider, once, that he hung and saw taken deep to left field by Blue Jays outfield prospect Kenny Wilson. It was a short, biteless 83mph cookie. It’s possible that it was just a bad changeup that spun funny and cut on Biddle. I’m not totally sure. It’s April for me too, you know.
My prognosis for Biddle isn’t going to change because of one start, good or bad, and I still consider him a good future #4 starter with a #3 ceiling if things break exactly right and continue to think it will take him longer to get there than the buzz about him in the public sphere seems to lead on. And look! I took video!
As always you can see all of my reports on the guys in the Phillies system right here.