Scouting profile: Aaron Nola
Phillies prospect is ready to make an impact in the Major Leagues
Aaron Nola caught the attention of scouts while he was still at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, La.
The right-handed starting pitcher was named the 2011 Class 5A State Player of the Year and was voted the state's "Mr. Baseball." His efforts earned him a selection in the 22nd round of the '11 Draft. However, instead of signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, Nola chose to attend Louisiana State University.
Nola's success continued for the Tigers and the awards continued to come. He was named to several All-America teams and was the College Baseball Foundation's National Pitcher of the Year in 2014. He was also a finalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award.
The Phillies selected Nola seventh overall in the 2014 Draft and he was immediately placed on a quick path to the big leagues. A year after being drafted, Nola is pitching for the parent club.
Not huge by today's standards, Nola is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds.
Nola began this season pitching for Double-A Reading and advanced to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In total, he threw 109 1/3 Minor League innings this season and posted a 10-4 record with a 2.39 ERA and a sparkling 1.05 WHIP.
After pitching in parts of only two Minor League seasons in the Phillies' system, Nola made his Major League debut on July 21 against the Tampa Bay Rays. He threw six very solid innings, allowing one run and striking out six, in a losing cause.
Nola has an effective repertoire that includes a two-seam fastball that sits between 92 and 94 mph, an infrequent four-seam fastball, a very good changeup and a curveball that can be very effective. He mixes and matches well between those pitches.
Everything works off his sinking fastball. The pitch results in a good percentage of ground balls, always a great sign for a pitcher.
Due to his good control and command, Nola is not afraid to pitch inside. He also has the confidence to use any pitch in any count.
Nola has advanced pitching mechanics, changing his low three-quarter arm angle on occasion, resulting in good movement on all his pitches. It is the movement and use of the entire strike zone that adds deception to his delivery. It is rare that Nola is behind in counts, negating a need to throw a "get-me-over" fastball.
Challenging hitters is an important part of his plan. Nola has appropriate confidence in his talent and can skillfully navigate a solid lineup. He has always had an excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Nola brings a very mature demeanor and presence to the mound. He is advanced in almost every phase of his game.
Being able to change speeds and locations with ease, Nola takes charge on the mound and throws strikes. In fact, in his brief Minor League career, he had a walk rate of 1.5 per nine innings and struck out an average of 7.5 per nine.
Due to his ability to keep the ball down in the zone, Nola has yielded less than one home run per nine innings throughout his career. At a very hitter-friendly park like Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Nola's ground-ball proficiency will be an asset. Even though Nathan Karns -- his first mound opponent -- hit a home run off Nola in his debut, the young righty should be able to limit long-ball damage.
Contrary to the norm with many right-handed pitchers, Nola has shown an ability to succeed against left-handed hitters.
If he elevates the ball, his pitches have a tendency to straighten out. However, he self-corrects and may only experience a brief encounter with a lack of command.
I find this interesting
Nola's older brother, Austin, also attended LSU and is a professional baseball player, too. He is a middle infielder in the Marlins' organization.
Aaron is only 22. Austin is 25.
The future is now for Nola. It is likely he can retain a role in the Phillies' rotation.
Nola in a word