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Former Phils top pick Biddle happy with Braves

Lefty, who had Tommy John surgery in 2015, back in action this spring
MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jesse Biddle was a fairy tale come to life. The local kid from Germantown Friends High School who was drafted by his hometown team, the Phillies, in the first round in 2010.

Sure enough, there he was on the mound at Spectrum Field for Saturday's Grapefruit League game. The twist is that the 25-year-old left-hander was pitching for the Braves against the Phillies.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jesse Biddle was a fairy tale come to life. The local kid from Germantown Friends High School who was drafted by his hometown team, the Phillies, in the first round in 2010.

Sure enough, there he was on the mound at Spectrum Field for Saturday's Grapefruit League game. The twist is that the 25-year-old left-hander was pitching for the Braves against the Phillies.

This tale may still have a happily-ever-after ending. But the reality is that this was Biddle's first game action since August 2015 when he was with the Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley Minor League team. That was soon followed by Oct. 14, 2015, Tommy John surgery, a trade to the Pirates and then being claimed off waivers by the Braves last spring.

Biddle came in to pitch the fourth inning and didn't allow a ball to get out of the infield. After walking Tommy Joseph to start the inning -- they had been trading texts the night before -- he struck out Dylan Cozens and Aaron Altherr and got J.P. Crawford to ground out to third.

"It's been really cool," Biddle said of his fresh start with the Atlanta organization. "I played for the Phillies for a long time and I didn't really see myself going anywhere else. So when I got that phone call from [assistant general manager Scott Proefrock] telling me that I was traded to the Pirates, I didn't really expect it. It was a very interesting feeling.

"But once I got there and put on another uniform, I realized that there are 29 other teams and there are a lot of really good coaches out there. I found my way to the Braves and it feels like home. It's been a really nice journey."

The Braves claimed him knowing he wouldn't pitch at all in 2016. And now, they hope, that gamble will start to pay off.

"It was mostly just a sign that they have a lot of faith in me," Biddle said. "And that they also had a lot of faith in their ability to rehab me to full strength and give me a chance to succeed at the Major League level. So far, so good. I feel 100 percent. I feel awesome."

The easy explanation for Biddle's dream not coming true in Philadelphia is that pitching so close to home did him no favors. He doesn't buy it.

"The more I look back on it, the more I realize that it was just like anywhere else. I really believe that," he said. "I really don't believe it dictated anything that happened while I was here. I couldn't have asked for anything different from the Phillies, anything different from my support system. It ended up working out the way it did and there are no hard feelings anywhere."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jesse Biddle