Two Phils pitchers among Top 100 Prospects
Southpaw Biddle ranks at No. 60; right-hander Martin comes in at No. 80
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have made a significant commitment to win with pitching in recent years, which is why they traded 10 players and prospects to acquire Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, and committed $324 million in payroll to sign Cole Hamels, Lee and Halladay to contract extensions.
But sooner or later, the Phils hope that some of their own young talent can help the big league club.
Two pitchers in their Minor League system made MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list: left-hander Jesse Biddle (No. 60) and right-hander Ethan Martin (No. 80). The Phillies selected Biddle, 21, in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He went 10-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 26 starts last season with Class A Clearwater, and could open the season with Double-A Reading. The Phils acquired Martin, 23, in a July trade with the Dodgers for Shane Victorino. Martin went 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA in seven starts with Reading, and could open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies are impressed with Biddle's physical talents as well as his mental makeup. He started slowly in each of the previous two seasons before rounding into form.
"He battled through," assistant general manager Benny Looper said. "It helped him become mentally tough enough to hang in there and keep working, inning by inning, pitch by pitch. He's been through the mental grind, which is part of it. He's got good composure on the mound. He's a good competitor. His stuff is good, too. He just has a lot of potential."
Biddle has a strong fastball and curveball, but Looper said his changeup has improved and turned into a "real good pitch" for him.
"He's going to have the pitches to go to battle with," Looper said.
While some have viewed Martin as a relief pitcher, the Phillies see him as a starter.
"He threw outstanding the two times I saw him last year," Looper said.
Martin was not using his curveball very much when the Phillies acquired him in July. The Dodgers had taken that pitch away because he had trouble throwing it for strikes. However, his curveball is outstanding, according to Looper.
"It's a very good pitch," he said. "He's a big, strong kid that looks like an innings eater. His stuff is above average. His change is good. He competed well."
Three former Philadelphia prospects also made the Top 100 Prospects list: catcher Travis d'Arnaud (No. 6), first baseman Jonathan Singleton (No. 27) and right-hander Jarred Cosart (No. 89). The Phillies traded d'Arnaud to the Blue Jays in December 2009 as part of the Halladay deal. They traded Singleton and Cosart in July 2011 as part of the Hunter Pence deal.
The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.