2011 BlueClaws LHP Jesse Biddle is among the group of Phillies prospects who reported to Clearwater on Monday for the start of the Florida Instructional League, his second year in the FIL. The Instructional League is in some ways a “second spring training” and learning opportunity for some of the younger players in the system, like Biddle, who said last week that he learned the most last fall not on the field, but in his hotel room.
“I sat there in the room charting Roy Halladay’s no-hitter (against the Reds),” he said. “I would get the velocities off the tv and note fastballs, first pitch strikes, change-up strikes, and other stuff but the whole emphasis for me was on change-ups.”
He would chart the games, at the urging of Phillies minor league pitching coordinator Gorm Heimueller, just like he would if he was sitting in the stands in the days leading up to a regular season start, only this time he was doing it from his hotel room and had television commentary rather than live, cheering fans.
“We also did a lot of video stuff, putting 10 guys in a room and breaking down our deliveries,” he said. “As much as you’re playing another month after the previous seven, it’s a lot different.”
When Jesse came to the Phillies Winter Tour stop in Lakewood before the season, he said he wanted to focus on his change-up during spring training and into the season. How’d he do?
“I think it got a lot better and that was the biggest thing I got better at. I could throw it in different counts, for strikes, locating it pretty well,” he said. “I’ve watched enough of Cole Hamels to know how effective a good change-up can be, not comparing myself at all to him, but watching him really made me realize that was something I really needed to work on.”
Biddle started slow, and had a 7.16 ERA in April this year, but from May on through, he had an ERA of just 2.39, second best in the league, and in the second half, he had the league’s best ERA at 1.91.
“My first good start was against Savannah (5 IP, 1 run on May 2nd),” he recalled. “That was the first time that after getting taken out I wasn’t really disappointed in myself. You have to wait five days to pitch, so if you’re disappointed, that’s a long time to wait.”
On his year in full, he said “I think it went alright. It didn’t start out too well but I guess I am moderately happy with my second half…There are a lot of things I need to work on like command of the fastball and change-up, picking off runners, fielding and other things that will make you a better pitcher. I got a lot better but I know I need to keep getting better and I’m excited for that chance.”
What does the off-season hold after the Instructional League? “I’m not a golfer, it’s too cold in Philly,” he said. “Last year I would do my running in the snow and ice and that was tough but it makes it so much easier when you get to Florida.”
Biddle had two weeks off after the BlueClaws season ended and before he reported to Florida. He got to Clearwater in February and went straight through until Labor Day, but he didn’t take a break from the game.
“I’d like to tell you I haven’t watched but I love the game. As soon as I was done wearing the Lakewood uniform, I just shift my focus to the Phillies…I love the Phillies. I love watching them. I can’t get enough.”
Editor’s Note: We hope to have a bunch of these wrap-up features as one of the anchors of BlueClaws Blog this off-season. This is the first one.