Biddle continues to overbear
Reading Fightin Phils left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle continues to make strides in the right direction. On April 23, the Phillies top pitching prospect fanned ten hitters over seven innings pitched while allowing just two hits. The Reading Fightin Phils, a Double-A affiliate for the Phillies, would win the outing 1-0.
Biddle is now 2-2 on the season with a 2.86 ERA. In five starts, Biddle has pitched 28.1 innings, tallying 38 whiffs and issuing seven walks. His latest outing has earned him the honor of being ranked number two on Baseball America’s hot sheet. According to Matt Winkelman of Phuture Phillies, the 22-year-old Biddle “could be in Lehigh Valley soon.” Lehigh Valley is the organization’s Triple-A affiliate.
Giles still (almost) perfect, promotion looming?
The other big news out of Double-A Reading concerns the bullpen. Righty Ken Giles, the Fightin Phils’ closer, remains perfect on the year. He has thrown ten innings in eight games, collecting six saves while allowing just four hits to coincide with his astonishing 19 strikeouts. Giles is currently leading the Eastern League in saves.
According to CBS Philly, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is considering promoting Giles to the majors. Skipping Triple-A is a bold move but the Phillies did the same thing with Kyle Kendrick. The 23-year-old Giles is not rated as one of the Phillies top ten prospects, according to Baseball America, but his 100-mph fastball is doing more to convince naysayers. With a ravaged bullpen in Philadelphia, Giles could presumably help bolster the corps so long as his hot hand carries over into the big league level.
[Update] On Friday night, Giles allowed his first earned run of the season, blowing a save and the lead in the tenth inning.
J.P. Crawford > Jimmy Rollins?
Rant Sports writer Mike Gibson has suggested that Phillies 2013 first round pick J.P. Crawford is a more than adequate replacement for shortstop Jimmy Rollins. According to Gibson “While Rollins unquestionably is the team’s greatest shortstop ever, there are indications that Crawford could be every bit as good.”
Crawford is currently raking at Single-A Lakewood in New Jersey. He is hitting .286 in 70 AB to go along with five stolen bases. Fresh out of high school, Crawford is still two to three years away from cracking the major league roster. So long as he continues to develop at the rate he is, it should be a seamless transition from Rollins to Crawford.
Franco’s first homer
The organizations no. 1 prospect Maikel Franco (Triple-A) hit his first home run of the season Thursday. Franco, off to a slow start, is hitting .184 with 17 strikeouts in 76 AB. He hit 31 HR in the minors last season. With Phillies third baseman Cody Asche reeling at the major league level, Franco is pushing back his ETA with his slow start.
It’s only a matter of time until Franco gets the nod to the majors. The Phillies have capable infield depth but should Franco begin to figure out how to shorten his swing and connect on better pitches, all while displaying the power he showed last season, he could easily supplant Asche at the hot corner.