The Philadelphia Inquirer's Marc Narducci reports the Phillies have promoted first-round pick Aaron Nola to Double-A Reading. He will make his first start for the Fightins on Wednesday against the Harrisburg Senators. Nola will likely make three starts for Reading before being shut down for the season.
Nola appeared in seven games for the Single-A Clearwater Threshers while making six starts. He was 2-3 with a 3.16 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP. He struck out 30 batters in 31.1 innings of work with just five walks as batters had just a .207 batting average against him.
The right-hander from LSU has a strong fastball that sits between 93-95 mph and can hit 96 mph if he is charged up for the game. He has a 3/4 arm slot release but still manages to stay on top of his pitches giving him control.
The 6'1", 196 lbs. junior has one of the top fastballs in the entire draft and explains why he sports a 10.37 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio, up from his 8.71 K/9 he put up in 2013 for the Tigers. While his K/9 went up in 2014 so hid his walks-per-nine from 1.29 in 2013 to 2.09 in 2014. The increase in walks is likely due to his increased use of his slider.
Nola, 21, does not rely solely on his fastball. He entered LSU with a plus-changeup that had a lot of sink to it which is one of the reasons the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him in 2011. The changeup looks like a fastball out of his hand which makes the deceptive pitch that much more difficult to hit. During his time with the Tigers, Nola got away from using his changeup in order to develop his slider which has become a true power pitch as well. Getting back to throwing the changeup consistently, in addition to his fastball and slider, will make Nola a top pitching prospect in a hurry.
One area of Nola's game that jumps off the page is not only his strikeouts but the amount of hitters he gets to swing and miss. That's a great sign for a player who projects as a starter when he moves into professional baseball. Even with losing a little touch on his changeup, Nola still possesses great command which should allow him to progress through the minor leagues at a faster rate than other high school arms.
Accolades are nothing new for the 21-year-old. He was selected as a First-Team All-American in 2013 by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, ABCA, Perfect Game and NCBWA while also being selected as a finalst for the 2013 National Pitcher of the Year.
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