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Phillies select local product in first round

Phillies select local product in first round

PHILADELPHIA -- Jesse Biddle sold his talented left arm to the Phillies last Wednesday inside a mostly empty Citizens Bank Park.

If they liked him before, they loved him then.

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Draft Central

Biddle, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound left-hander from Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, had an impressive private workout Wednesday with the Phils' top brass. So impressive that Philadelphia selected him with the 27th pick Monday in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

"As a guy who's played and been drafted, I can't imagine being drafted in the first round by your local team," said Phillies area scout Eric Valent, who watched Biddle several times before the Draft. "He's just so happy. This is absolutely a dream come true for him. Especially being a Philadelphia kid, and how the fans of Philadelphia are toward their team. For a kid to get drafted out of high school by his hometown club? He isn't going to be able to sleep."

The Phillies had a few needs entering the Draft: Left-handed pitchers, catchers and infielders.

They addressed one need in the first round.

The Phils like to say they will take the best talent available in the first round, regardless of need. But scouting director Marti Wolever said they considered Biddle, who could not be reached for comment, the best of a handful of players they had considered taking with their first pick.

"We draw a lot of comparisons to Clayton Kershaw in high school," said Wolever, referring to the 22-year-old Dodgers pitcher who had a 2.79 ERA in 31 appearances (30 starts) last season. "We just felt, at this time, he was the best high school left-hander on our board. It really was a no-brainer. ... We saw Clayton in high school in Dallas. They're about the same size. Jesse's arm might work a little easier quite frankly than Clayton's did. But I think ceiling-wise and stuff-wise, they're very comparable. We think Jesse's got a chance to be that type of guy in the big leagues."

Biddle went 9-2 with a 1.06 ERA in his senior season. He struck out 140 in 59 1/3 innings. He allowed just 21 hits and 29 walks. He went 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA as a junior, striking out 61 in 33 innings.

The Phillies see a physically impressive left-hander who threw 94 mph last Wednesday and who also throws a curveball, slider and changeup.

"The slider is really the pitch that has come on recently for him," Wolever said. "It's really developed quickly. Everything has really, really developed quickly with him. He's come a long way really fast. And that was another intriguing point to us, was how far he's come from this spring until now. He's come a long way."

Biddle has made a college commitment to the University of Oregon, but the Phillies believe they can sign him.

"He expressed a desire a pitch," Wolever said. "And now it's a pretty good fit. You're in your hometown. I think any young man would really be pressed to walk by this opportunity, especially in the first round."

The Seattle Mariners signed the 27th pick last season -- Nick Franklin -- for $1.28 million.

There are considerable pressures on any first-round pick, but Biddle likely will be facing more. He is the local kid. He will have family, friends and fans watching him closely.

How quickly can he work his way through the system?

When will he be up?

"I think there's a bunch [of pressure]," Wolever said. "I think right now he doesn't realize it. I think as he gets older and starts going through the process, he'll realize it a little bit more."

But Wolever and Valent said they like Biddle's makeup, which should help.

"I think he's very composed," Wolever said. "He wasn't overwhelmed by being here in the park. He just really handled himself well here. His family was here. He really acted like he belonged. ... He's very outgoing, very intelligent, very quick-witted, with great composure and great stuff."

"He's a very confident kid," Valent said. "He's very confident in his ability. He just wants the ball. He's not fazed by much like that. He believes in his abilities. It's great that we found a player like that, especially to play in Philadelphia. It's not like any other place."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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