‘Not-Yet-Elite 11’: Ranking of Philadelphia’s Most Promising Young Talent

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4.) P Aaron Nola-Phillies 

Mar 27, 2015; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola (10) throws a pitch during the second inning against the New York Yankees at Bright House Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the silver linings of the Phillies downward trend over the past several seasons has been their improved draft position. Even as a franchise that has botched multiple first round picks over the years, it seems as if even they can’t mess up a top-10 selection. The result of the first of back-to-back 73-win seasons was 2014 7th overall pick Aaron Nola.  The LSU product was touted as one of the more ‘major league-ready’ prospects in last year’s class. The hard-throwing right hander was coming off a strong collegiate season with LSU and, with the Phillies pitching staff crumbling right before their eyes, Nola was the logical pick. Make no mistake, though, this is not a ‘reach’ for a need. This kid has some serious game and figures to make the leap to the bigs before too long.

After being drafted, Nola spent the remainder of his 2014 season with Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. Combined, Nola finished with a 4-3 record, 2.93 ERA, and 45 K in 55.1 IP. Many expected Nola to join the Phillies at Spring Training this past offseason before returning for further seasoning at the minor league level. As our Jason Ferrie deduced, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made a mistake not giving Nola an invite

"…there is a good chance that we see Aaron Nola in Philadelphia this season. Right now, he would be the fourth or fifth best arm in their rotation. I get that Amaro doesn’t want to start Nola’s clock, but going to major league camp doesn’t count as service time, so why not send him? The experience that Nola is going to gain is far more valuable in the big picture than two mediocre relievers fighting for innings. As I said before, Nola doesn’t have to get a ton of innings or stay the full camp, but being in major league camp would have been valuable for the 21-year old, who should end up in Philadelphia in ’15."

Nola would make an appearance for the Phillies in a spring training game against the Yankees. In three innings, Nola scattered five hits, struck out four, and allowed no runs. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who Nola allowed a single to, provided the following assessment of the Phillies right hander.

"“Good arm,” Rodriguez said. “Power slider. Power changeup. I think he has a bright future. … The Phillies should be very excited about him.”"

Nola has started two games for Double-A Reading so far in 2015. He is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and five strikeouts over 10.2 innings. This past weekend, Nola combined with Jesse Biddle and Zach Eflin to provide the following glimpse of the future for a hopeful Phillies pitching staff.

Here’s to hoping the suffering through this current stretch of misery pays off in the end for Phillies fans. Much of that hope hinges on the powerful right arm of Aaron Nola.