The Phillies top pitching prospect, 1st round 2014 MLB Draft pick Aaron Nola, will be missing from big-league camp. Nola, selected 7th overall, was not invited by the club to get a taste of big league competition when pitchers and catchers report next Thursday.
The Phils gave Nola a $3.3 million signing bonus, the value assigned by Major League Baseball to his draft slot. He was known as the most polished pitcher in the 2014 draft, a main reason that the club selected him. The belief was that he would progress through the minor leagues and help the major league team sooner rather than later.
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Which begs the question— why not give him a taste of major league batters?
Chances that the talented Nola could be promoted to the major leagues in 2015 are better than you might think. That evaluation is based on the problems involving mediocre talent, advancing age, injury history, and more at both the majors and minors levels.
The 22-year old righthander had a spectacular season a year ago after signing. Nola started out with Hi-A Clearwater as a 21-year old and showed amazing stuff against opponents that were, on average, two years older than him. In 7 games, 6 starts, Nola struck out 30 and showed great control by only walking 5 batters.
Nola’s success continued with Double-A Reading where he was facing opponents that were nearly 4 years older than him. In five games while pitching on an innings limit, Nola struck out 15 and walked 5 with a WHIP of 1.25. Historically, that jump from A to AA ball is the hardest for any player, but Nola handled it well in his short stint.
Nola does not necessarily have great stuff, but he throws three plus pitches with above average command. He projects as a potential mid-rotation starter on a contending team, one that could eventually eat up a ton of innings.
Again, keeping all of this in mind, why is he not in the big league camp? He has shown the ability to succeed at each level, and he will be on the Phillies major league roster within the next year and a half. Last month here at TBOH, we said that Nola was “comin’ quick”, but is he comin’ quick enough?
Spring training is an amazing chance for Nola to get his beak wet, facing major league caliber hitters without getting thrown to the fire in a game that actually counts. It’s a cup of coffee with no meaning in the standings, but with a ton of meaning for Nola’s mental state. It would give him a chance to see where he stands against major league hitters, and possibly give him a confidence boost.
This appears to be yet another mistake in a continuing history of them by General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr over the last few seasons. In a publicly announced rebuilding process, the Phillies cannot afford to make such poor decisions regarding the development of their best prospects and young players.