Right-hander, No. 7 overall Draft selection, was two-time SEC Pitcher of Year at LSU
Special to MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- When the Phillies made Louisiana State University junior Aaron Nola their No. 1 selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, they did so with the knowledge that the 21-year old right-handed pitcher went about his business in a very professional manner and was ready to, if he did everything they expected, be fast-tracked through the system.
That may not have been the case when Nola was drafted out of high school by Toronto. While there were plenty of reasons to go to LSU, including his older brother Austin, who played for the Tigers and is currently in the Marlins' system, the biggest may have been his own understanding of who he was at that time.
"Looking back at it, coming out of high school, I don't think I was ready for the pro level," said Nola, who agreed to terms with the Phillies on Tuesday. "To watch my brother go through three years at LSU, he loved that program, just made me want to go there more."
"We believe he's a guy who has a chance to pitch pretty quickly in Philadelphia," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "But that'll be based on his performance and how he grows. He's a pretty regimented kid. I got a chance to see him, it was clear he's got some great focus. He knows exactly what he wants to do to prepare. And I was impressed with the way he prepared for his start when I saw him pitch. But that's kind of been his M.O. We just want to make sure he gets acclimated to our program, acclimated to what we want to do with him and we'll kind of go from there."
Nola went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA as a junior and was named as one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award. The 21-year-old finished his career at LSU with a 30-6 record and a 2.09 ERA, and he's the only player in SEC history to be a two-time Pitcher of the Year.
Nola appears to be an obvious choice as he fills several needs for the Phillies; the most important is how close he is to reaching the highest level of the game. A projection that he attests is in large part due to playing at LSU under former Orioles Minor League pitching coordinator Alan Dunn.
"We had a pitching coach there in Alan Dunn," Nola said. "He's helped me with my development in pitching and as a person. That was one of my best decisions to go to college."