CLEARWATER, FL – For Philadelphia Phillies’ top prospect Jesse Biddle, the pressure of being labeled “number one” is not nearly as intense as one would think.
That’s because of the support he receives from his family keeps things in perspective.
“My family is everything,” said the prized pitcher. “They have been everything for me in my career.”
Although it is a new experience for Biddle, he takes MLB.com’s high ranking in stride.
“It’s my first year as a ‘number one prospect’ but I don’t pitch any differently than I have before,” he said. “I’m the same pitcher as I was last season, and the year before, so it’s kind of like ‘what do I do with that information?’”
Biddle also realizes he won’t get preferential treatment just because of his place in the organization.
“The hitter’s not saying to himself ‘oh this is the number one prospect’, he’s just up there hitting,” Biddle said. “So it doesn’t change much, but it is nice being the number one prospect in a great organization. I appreciate it, I work really hard.
“I’m glad that they ranked me there but when it comes down to it, you can’t rank players. We have so many good players on our team down here that it’s hard to believe they can just do that.”
The Philadelphia native is in the ideal situation as he attempts to live up to the lofty expectations while representing his hometown team.
“Playing for the Phillies and being in my city is awesome,” Biddle said. “I’m very family oriented and a lot of family come to games and a lot of my family’s friends come out to support me and that’s incredibly important to me.”
Embraces playing for family
Biddle has not felt the weight of constantly playing in front of people he knows and loves, instead opting to embrace the opportunity.
“There’s always going to be a lot of attention on you as an athlete, and even when your family is not in the crowd, pitching in minor-league baseball is a pressure-filled activity,” Biddle said. “That’s still nothing compared to pitching in the big leagues.”
Although the potential is as high as his 6’4 frame, the young southpaw knows he needs to keep improving to get to his ultimate goal of starting for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park this season.
“I want to end up in the big leagues, I really do,” he said. “It will be tough, and I’ll have to jump over some great players.
“Realistically my goal is to just pitch well and to be consistent. One of the things I struggle with is I’ll have a good month, then a bad month, then a good month, and a bad month.”
Last season while playing for the Clearwater Threshers, the Phillies’ A+ affiliate, he posted very strong numbers, going 10-6 with a 3.22 ERA and walking only 54 batters in his 26 starts.
He knows his stat line must continue to get better, but as the anticipation for the new season mounts, Biddle’s nerves seem to vanish.
“If I go out there and throw two innings and give up 10 runs, I’m still going to walk out of that clubhouse and my family will be there to support me, cheer me on and have my back. It just gets me excited for the season and excited to see everybody again.”