Reading opens the season holding three aces

If pitching wins championships, then the Reading Phillies are poised for success. With three of the four best pitching prospects in the organization in Reading's starting rotation, get ready for a winning hand full of Aces in Baseballtown.

When the Phillies sent Jarred Cosart to Houston last season in the Hunter Pence trade, their five baby aces dropped to being the four baby aces. Coming into the 2012 season, the Reading Phillies hold three of those four aces in Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone and Julio Rodriguez, with just Clearwater's Brody Colvin missing.

Those aces along with other young pitching talent are likely going to be the strong suit for the R-Phils when they open up their season in an opening day double-header against Portland on Thursday. Pettibone has been chosen to start game one of the double-header, while May will pitch Friday in the third game of the season. Rodriguez is starting Wednesday night against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in their annual charity exhibition game.

With three of the aces all on one roster, a sort of friendly sibling rivalry has developed among them, but it's all in the spirit of fun and competition. "We all want to see each other do well and we're on the same team, obviously, but when someone goes out there and does well, you sort of want to one-up that or at least match it," admitted Pettibone.

Having all three starters working their way through the system together has helped in Lakewood where the three aces were all together to help the BlueClaws win their second South Atlantic League title in as many seasons in 2010 and it helped last season at Clearwater, where the Threshers made a late-season run for the Florida State League post-season. It has also helped Reading manager Dusty Wathan, who has also moved through the system with his young pitchers.

"I think that with these guys last season – especially with Rodriguez - the question was ‘well, let's see what they do at the next level' and they all went out and pitched well and I think event his year, people are asking that same question," explained Wathan. "I know that I'm convinced that they can all handle this level and the next level when they get there. They're legitimate pitchers and they may hit a rough spot or two, but they'll make it through."

No one knows for sure if the three aces will stay together or possibly be joined by Colvin at some point in the season, but all three know that if they continue to pitch well, good things will happen for them no matter where they may be pitching down the road.

Pettibone, for one, is glad to have his buddies joining him at Reading and is looking forward to more success for each of them. "I've kind of pitched alongside these guys my whole minor league career. We're friends on and off the field, so I'm glad we've all moved to this level and I'm looking forward to another year with these guys."

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