Biddle given 'mental break' at Reading

Reading Phillies pitcher Jesse Biddle. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

In the span of three weeks, Jesse Biddle has gone from the top pitching prospect in the Phillies farm system to a struggling starter removed from Double-A Reading’s rotation.

Biddle was placed on the temporarily inactive list on Thursday.

“We decided to give Jesse a mental break,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “In order to do that, we had to place him on the temporary inactive list.”

Biddle, the Germantown Friends product the Phillies selected with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2010 draft, is 3-9 with a 5.03 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in his second season at Reading.

In his most recent start, on Monday at Binghamton, Biddle gave up 10 wins on 8 hits while walking 3 and striking out 2 in 3 innings of a 12-8 loss. It was the third time in his last four starts that Biddle failed to pitch at least 4 innings.

Biddle, rated the 71st best prospect in baseball by Baseball America this winter, appears to be in the midst of a crisis of confidence.

“I’m struggling with a lot of stuff,” Biddle told the Reading Eagle on Thursday. “I’m miserable out there. I’m very unhappy. And I don’t know why. There’s really no answer right now.”

Biddle has battled command problems regularly in his minor league career.

Even while sporting a 3.64 ERA last season, when he represented the Phillies at the All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field, Biddle had a 1.35 WHIP and walked 82 batters in 138 1/3 innings. In his last seven starts of 2013, Biddle walked 28 in 33 1/3 innings.

After starting this season fairly strong - 2.86 ERA and 7 walks in his first 5 starts - Biddle again returned to his wild ways. In his last 10 starts, Biddle has struck out 38 while walking 33 in 50 1/3 innings.

Biddle also missed a start last month after getting struck in the head during a hail storm. He ended up with concussion symptoms. But that was a month ago.

Biddle is at a loss for what’s gone wrong in June, when he’s gone 0-4 with a 12.64 ERA.

“Nothing feels fluid on the mound, nothing feels natural, nothing feels right,” Biddle told the Reading Eagle. “Everything feels out of sync. I just want to pitch, but at the same time there’s a lot of stuff going on in between my ears that I can’t really understand. I have never felt this way before in my entire life, in my entire career.”


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