Phantasy Relevance: Aaron Nola


Right-handed pitching prospect Aaron Nola is ranked by most sources as the #2 prospect in the Phillies farm system, the top pitcher in the system. Regarded as one of the best pitchers in the 2014 MLB Draft, the Phils picked him with the 7th overall selection last summer. 

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Many also felt that Nola would prove to be the first player to make it to the major leagues from that draft class. But being the first to arrive isn’t the most important thing for either the player or the team. Being ready and staying for good is more important.

For fantasy owners, if and when he does make it, will Nola be the type of starting pitcher worthy of having on your fantasy roster?

Next up:  RHP – Aaron Nola

2.  RHP – Aaron Nola: the 21-year old was chosen by the Phillies in the 1st round (7th pick overall) of the 2014 MLB First Year Player Draft.  Originally drafted in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft by the Blue Jays, Nola didn’t sign with Toronto and instead decided to stay home and attend Louisiana State University.  He did so, in part, to see if he could better his draft stock once the 2014 draft rolled around. It turns out that he made a wise choice.

The former Louisiana High School Player of the Year churned out some eye-popping numbers over his three years at LSU. He finished his career with a record of 30-6 over 49 starts, along with a miniscule 2.09 ERA.

Nola was both a high school and college star in Louisiana.

(Photo Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports)

Those final numbers are excellent on their own. However, if you focus solely on his sophomore and junior seasons, Nola registered an incredible 23-2 record with 7 complete games, a filthy 1.52 ERA, and he struck out 256 batters over 242 1/3 innings.

He pitches out of a 3/4 arm slot and possesses a low to mid-90’s fastball that makes it hard for hitters to track due to its natural sink.  He also throws a good-looking changeup, with solid command and a nice slider, giving him 3 major league-quality pitches.

What Aaron lacks in size (6-1, 195), he makes up in confidence and determination.  After being drafted in June, he managed to go through High-A and AA ball, combining to go 4-3 over 11 starts while posting a 2.93 ERA. Nola will be fast-tracked through the minors and could conceivably see time in Philly at some point this season.

Many scouts consider him to be a nearly finished product, and view him as a future #2 or #3 starter.  Comparisons have been made to Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds.

Nola will begin the season in the minors to work on his craft, and possibly to add another pitch to his repertoire. Barring any early season trade of Cole Hamels and/or Cliff Lee, and assuming that the back-end of the Phillies rotation remains somewhat stable, I would expect Nola to spend most of 2015 in the Minors.

Look for Nola to do his finishing work with another 20 or so minor league starts. If he has another strong summer, he could be a September call-up. Depending on how well he then performs, he could be up for good.

For now, Aaron Nola does not appear to have much value in shorter term fantasy leagues for the 2015 season. You can safely pass on him on draft day. But if you are in a keeper/dynasty league, and he is somehow still available, you definitely want to consider adding him. In any event, Nola is an arm you want to keep on your radar going forward in fantasy baseball.