Confident first-rounder Biddle signs with Phils
Hurler jokes in news conference about getting start vs. Fish
PHILADELPHIA -- Jesse Biddle understands it could be a few years before he pitches for the Phils, but wearing a Phillies jersey and cap Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, he could not help but feel he is ready to strike out the Marlins' lineup.
Biddle vs. the National League East could happen eventually, but the Phillies think it might be 2014 at the earliest before it does.
Biddle, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound left-hander who was selected in the first round (27th overall) of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, agreed to terms with the Phillies on a contract worth $1.16 million. He will travel to Clearwater, Fla., next week to begin workouts in extended spring training and is expected to be in the rotation for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies when their schedule opens later this month.
If everything goes well, the Phillies think Biddle could be in the big leagues in four to five years.
"I'm getting the start tonight," he joked. "Roy Halladay is now the No. 2."
The Phillies raved about Biddle's athletic abilities and makeup before introducing himself at a news conference Thursday. He showed his intelligence, confidence and maturity while meeting with reporters.
Biddle has a few years to show the talent part.
He has a model to follow in Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, who Biddle said he has followed closely since the southpaw made his Phillies debut in 2006. Philadelphia drafted Hamels in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. It took Hamels four years to reach the big leagues.
"I've always been a fan of Cole Hamels, and I was a big fan of Cliff Lee last year," Biddle said. "I not only like to watch them throw, but the way they approach the game and approach the media after the game. As a baseball fan, the way you get to know your players is through the way they handle themselves off the field."
Biddle is ready to get started. The Phillies picked Biddle on Monday and agreed to terms Wednesday.
Asked why negotiations went so quickly, Biddle simply pointed to the name on the front of his jersey. Biddle grew up in Philadelphia as a Phillies fan. He had seats behind home plate during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. He watched Hamels pitch the first half in a monsoon and Brad Lidge strike out Eric Hinske in the second half to win it.
"That was a true testament to his character and what the Phillies stand for," said Biddle, recalling Hamels' effort in Game 5 of the World Series.
Biddle never made the championship parade down Broad Street two days later. He got sick.
"Probably from all the rain," he said.
Biddle comes from a storied Philadelphia family. The William Biddle family settled in the Philadelphia area in the 1600s. The Biddle lineage includes soldiers and officers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, a U.S. congressman, diplomats, an attorney general of the United States and the bassist of The Roots.
Biddle is the first athlete, and he is motivated to make his mark.
"Originally when this year started, I was supposed to be a second-round pick or a third-round pick," Biddle said. "I don't settle for things like that. I told myself I was going to be the No. 27 pick by the Phillies. I worked my tail off until I was off. Four to five years is obviously ... just to make it to the big leagues at all is an incredible feat. That's just the jumping-off point. I hope to work as hard as I can, and whenever the Phillies are ready to have me, I'm ready to be there."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.