LAKELAND, Fla. — Aaron Nola made the best of a situation he didn't think he'd be in.
Nola said he wasn't expecting to get picked for the East Coast Professional Showcase after missing the final month of his high school season with a sports hernia, but the lanky 6-foot-2, 170-pound righthander from Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La. took the hill for the Royals team in the nightcap and showed some of the best stuff of any pitcher thus far.
Nola throws from a whippy, low three-quarters angle, which generates some sharp armside run on his 88-92 mph fastball. But it was actually his changeup that helped the Louisiana State verbal commit strike out seven batters over his three innings of work. Nola gave up two runs on four hits, but did not issue any walks.
"My changeup is my go-to pitch," Nola said. "I developed that last year. After that, probably my fastball and then my curve. I had good command tonight of all three pitches lately."
It's not common to see high school pitchers with such advanced changeups, but Nola pulled the string many times during his start, getting a lot of bad swings off the pitch. His changeup—in which he uses a circle-change grip—sits in the 78-81 mph range and has the same movement as his fastball. When hitters weren't out front on it, they were pounding it weakly into the ground and he even broke a bat in the second inning.
Nola said this was his first time pitching in a professional stadium, but he wasn't nervous.
"I felt really good," Nola said. "I'm just getting back into it after my hernia and I'm 100 percent now. I felt good."
East Coast Boast
With all of the team's 60-yard dash times posted today, here are the top 13 fastest times. . .
6.35 — Roman Quinn, OF/SS, Port St. Joe (Fla.) HS
6.41 — Mallex Smith, OF, Rickards HS, Tallahassee, Fla.
6.50 — John Norwood, OF, Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
6.62 — T.J. Costen, SS, First Colonial HS, Virginia Beach, Va.
6.65 — Derek Fisher, OF, Cedar Crest HS, Lebanon, Pa.
6.65 — Justin Bianco, OF, Peters Township HS, McMurray, Pa.
6.65 — John Leonard, SS, Connellsville Area HS,
6.67 — Shon Carson, OF, Lake City (S.C.) HS
6.70 — Tyler Greene, SS, West Boca Raton (Fla.) HS
6.70 — Jo-El Bennett, OF, Houston Academy, Dothan, Ala.
6.70 — Kelvin Singletary, RHP, Madison (Fla.) County HS
6.70 — A.J. Cole, SS, Huntsville (Ala.) HS
6.70 — Chase Davis, RHP, Alabama Christian Academy, Montgomery, Ala.
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