February 2 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“A 19-year-old athlete with seven-figure bonus money in his bank account isn’t always the most self-aware of individuals. But Jesse Biddle knows exactly what is in store for him as he enters his first full season of professional baseball.
“This is going to be the longest season of my life,” the 6-5 lefthander said yesterday from a conference room in Lakewood, N.J.
He means that in the literal sense. Growing up in West Mount Airy, the length of Biddle’s baseball seasons were dictated in large part by the elements. When the Phillies selected him 27th overall in last June’s amateur draft, he was coming off a senior season at Germantown Friends in which he logged just 59 1/3 innings. While his transition to the minor leagues was impressive – Biddle went 4-1 with a 3.92 ERA while logging 43 2/3 innings in the Gulf Coast and New York Penn leagues – his workload should see a significant increase this season.
The Phillies won’t make their minor league assignments until next month, but Biddle figures to start the year at either Class A Williamsport, where he finished last season, or low-A Lakewood. He will then embark on his first full 5-month season, which can be a grueling ordeal for even the most experienced of pitchers.
“One of my biggest goals is just to go down to spring training and feel great,” Biddle said. “At the end of last season I was definitely feeling a little tired . . . I’ve put in a lot of work, so I’m excited.”
The Phillies were pleased with what they saw from Biddle last year. When they drafted him, they envisioned a player in the mold of current Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. He threw a low-to-mid 90s fastball and complemented it with a curveball. Throughout last season, Biddle worked hard to develop a changeup, a pitch both he and the Phillies believe he will need to have success as he progresses through the minor leagues.”
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