A year ago, Jesse Biddle was focusing on winning games as a high school pitcher. The truth is that he was so much better than most of his competition that he was able to get by without focusing as hard as he should from time-to-time. One of the first things he's discovered as a pro is that he has to focus on every pitch and can't let up for a minute, because he's simply not head and shoulders over his competition. Of course, old habits are hard to break and Biddle knows that's one of the things that he's got to get better at, especially as he faces better and better competition. Biddle has struggled through much of the season so far, but he has also thrown in some gems along the way, including six shutout innings against Delmarva a week ago.
"In high school, I could get away without being as focused as I am now," admitted Biddle. "The coaches see it all the time. A lot of young guys when they are in their first full season, they struggle. It's a long season; I keep forgetting there's four months left, not like in high school."
Biddle admits that his senior season in high school was almost one long showcase for himself and he treated it just that way. "I was just pitching to impress, really. It was just a matter of throwing hard and showing what I could do," said Biddle. That's all changed now and Biddle is more concerned with how he gets hitters out and knows it's not just a matter of being impressive. There are things like working hitters and setting them up for a certain pitch and realizing that you aren't being looked at to pitch a complete game every time out.
You have to remember that Biddle is still just 19 years old and is in his first full pro season. Besides worrying about winning high school games, Biddle was preparing for the draft at this time last year. Since he grew up as a Phillies fan, the draft actually turned into a bittersweet experience for Biddle. He had hoped to go higher than where the Phillies were picking, but the fact that he did wind up as a Phillie, made his drop a little easier to swallow. "I really wasn't sure what was going to happen, but when I didn't go to the teams that were interested, I was pretty excited because I knew there was a chance I was going to go to the Phillies," remembered Biddle. "There was talk of them picking another guy, but I just really thought it was my time."
As it turned out, it was Biddle's turn and the Phillies were happy that he had fallen that far. Most of the conventional wisdom did have Biddle going higher in the first round, but as it turned out, things worked out for both Biddle and the Phillies. Besides the fact that he gets to play for his favorite team, Biddle believes he's fortunate to have wound up in the Phillies organization because of how they've handled him since the draft. "I feel like the Phillies are doing a really good job of keeping me calm and keeping me collected and getting me ready for the next start," said Biddle.
While he knows that young players are prone to struggle through portions of their first season and the coaches keep reminding him that there is plenty of time left in the season and all he needs to do is pitch, Biddle is still a little bothered at how he's performed over the first six weeks of the season. "I've done a decent job of listening and trying to take in everything, but right now, the results aren't what I was expecting," said Biddle. "I was expecting to come into the season much better, because I had a really good spring, but it's just a little speed bump."
Jesse Biddle's career stats