Phillies prospects offer glimpse into the future

Pitching prospect Biddle is living his dream with the Phillies, even it is happening slowly. Credit: Getty Images
Pitching prospect Biddle is living his dream with the Phillies, even it is happening slowly. Credit: Getty Images

Phillies prospects Jesse Biddle, Maikel Franco and Kelly Dugan will not start the season playing in Citizens Bank Park. But the odds are that each could be part of the Phillies possible youth movement in 2015.

It’s evident that the Phillies need a fifth starter since Cole Hamels revealed his latest setback last week. However, Biddle will not be part of the rotation. The Germantown Friends alum picked up the victory over the Houston Astros Saturday but was rocked. After his second disappointing performance with the Phillies, Biddle was sent packing for the minor league complex.

But the tall southpaw is departing with some confidence.

“I felt good out there,” Biddle said. “There are some things that were clicking and reminding me that I can have success at this level.”

Biddle has the tools but the 22-year old doesn’t have the command yet.

“I have some things I’m going to work on,” Biddle said. “I’ll take the necessary steps.”

Moments after getting the news that he was leaving the big club, Biddle managed a smile when noting that his dream of playing for his favorite childhood team remains.

“It’s still amazing where I’m at,” Biddle said. “I grew up rooting for the Phillies. I would do anything to play for the Phillies. I’d even play shortstop.”

A lefthanded shortstop would be a novelty but don’t expect Biddle to leave the mound.

Biddle was just rows from the field when Brad Lidge struck out Erik Hinske to win the 2008 World Series.

“There’s a picture on the wall here (outside the Phillies clubhouse) when the Phillies won that World Series and I can pick myself out standing in the Diamond Club. There’s nothing more than I want than to pitch for the Phillies. I’ll do what I can to get there eventually.”

Expect Biddle to start the season in the Lehigh Valley. Third baseman Maikel Franco will start the season in AAA as well. Franco has impressed playing third and first base last week. “I like him a lot,” Ryne Sandberg said. “He has a soft glove. He’s got a very good arm and he can hit.”

Franco has great range at third and his fabulous reflexes were on display Saturday at first base. He made a number of exceptional plays at first.

“I’m learning a lot at first,” Franco said. ‘I’m also working on my play at third base.”

Franco, 21, is coach Larry Bowa’s pet project. “He has been with me every day and it’s been great,” Franco said. “I get a lot (of repetitions) and it’s helped.”

And then there is Franco’s bat. He’s been hitting as many line drives as any Phillie during the first week Grapefruit League competition. “I love to hit,” Franco said. “I feel comfortable here.”

However, Cody Asche, who homered and doubled Saturday, is all but a lock to start at third base when the season opens in Texas.

“There’s no rush with Franco,” Bowa said. “He’s young. He doesn’t need to come up now but I can see him up sooner than later.”

Dugan, who was the Phillies first pick in the 2009 draft, has been quietly rising in the minor league ranks for the Phillies. Dugan, who should start the season in Lehigh Valley, has an unusual background for a ballplayer. He grew up in Hollywood since his dad is director Dennis Dugan, who is behind the camera for every Adam Sandler film.

“It was a cool way to grow up,” Dugan said. “Sure, I’ve gotten to know Adam and Kevin (James) and the rest of those guys. My dad has a cool job.”

Dugan, 23, has a pretty good gig as well. He credits his father, a lifelong baseball fan, for helping him achieve his dream. “My dad pitched to me all the time when I was a kid,” Dugan said. “He helped me get where I am. It’s great that my dad loves baseball. He collects baseball photographs and autographs. He couldn’t be prouder of me.”


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