Nola Impressive in Phillies Debut
By Matt Veasey
On Friday afternoon in a rain-shortened game at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida the New York Yankees demolished the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0 in Grapefruit League action.
It would seem to be a pretty dreary result, particularly for the Phillies pitching staff. But in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth.
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The most interesting and important aspect of this game involved the Phils’ main pitcher on the day, and from that perspective, things went very well for the club.
Taking the mound against the legendary Yankees franchise was none other than 2014 first round draft pick Aaron Nola. The team’s top pitching prospect was making his first-ever appearance in Phillies red pinstripes.
Nola was scheduled to make a start in the game. But the ominous weather forecast and the Phils’ desire to get game work in for Jonathan Papelbon resulted in the unusual situation of the closer making the start.
“The Phillies should be very excited about him.” ~ ARod, on Nola
Papelbon allowed a walk and struck out a batter, got his work in, and turned the game over to Nola. So the 6’1, 195-pound righthander finally took the mound to start the top of the 2nd inning with the game still scoreless. When he left after the 4th, it was still scoreless.
Nola went 3 innings, scattering 5 hits, walking none, and striking out 4 New York batters. He left a big impression on the visitors, including Alex Rodriguez. As quoted by Ryan Lawrence at Philly.com: “Good arm. Power slider. Power changeup. I think he has a bright future. … The Phillies should be very excited about him.”
Nola’s four K’s came in his final 7 opposing hitters, and included not only ARod, but also veterans Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley.
CSN’s Neil Hartman did a nice feature on Nola earlier, prior to this start, including an interview with the pitcher: “Phillies Focus”
Nola tossed 3 shutout innings, struck out 4, scattered 5 hits.
(Photo: Baseball Betsy)
Aaron Nola is a Louisiana native, born in Baton Rouge, and was first drafted out of Catholic High School by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 22nd round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He declined to sign, instead attending LSU where he became a consensus All-American and a Golden Spikes Award finalist a year ago.
The Phillies then made Nola their first round pick in last June’s Amateur Draft, the 7th overall selection. He appeared in a dozen games between High-A Clearwater and AA-Reading, going 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA. He allowed 49 hits in 55.1 innings, with an outstanding 45:10 K/BB ratio and a 1.066 WHIP.
Nola will start out the 2014 season as a key member of an extremely talented Reading Phillies rotation that should include fellow highly-rated prospects Jesse Biddle, Zach Eflin, and Ben Lively. If he stays healthy and effective, it is not unreasonable to think that he could get a shot with the big league club at some point later in the summer.
For one dreary weather afternoon in the Grapefruit League in Florida, Aaron Nola gave the Phillies and fans watching on TV a glimpse into what is a hoped-for warmer and brighter future with the National League team in Philadelphia.