PHILADELPHIA—The Northeast isn’t exactly a breeding ground for baseball prospects nor does it typically feature “baseball weather.” However, Wednesday was quite the opposite. The temperature in Philadelphia was in the 60s, the sun was out and two Top 100 pitchers were facing off in a game that attracted close to 50 scouts. Germantown Friends School (Philadelphia) was hosting Germantown Academy (Fort Washington, Pa.) with lefthander Jesse Biddle starting for Germantown Friends and righthander Keenan Kish starting for Germantown Academy.
Germantown Friends is more known for its academics and its baseball field is a little unorthodox. There is no outfield fence and the only thing keeping spectators off the field is a white boundary line up right field and wire fencing up left field. There is a backstop and athletic officials for the school roped off an area reserved for scouts. They were packed in like sardines until they made their usual trip up the lines to get side views in the third or fourth innings.
Biddle, an Oregon signee, is a solidly-built southpaw with broad shoulders. He works quickly with a fastball that ranges from 88-91 mph and mixes a slow curve that was 69-70 as well as a 79-80 change. He also works with a slider, but didn’t get much opportunity to throw it in this game. Biddle was on a pitch count since it was his first official outing and was removed in the third inning after giving up six runs, only three of which were earned.
“We’re still early in the season here,” Germantown Friends head coach Bob Bergholtz said. “He looked fine. He looked typical Jesse Biddle out there. He probably got a little tired there in third as the pitch count started creeping up a little. Ideally we were looking at 45-50 (pitches) but he was probably more 55-60 today. We wanted to give him an opportunity to get himself out of that inning.”
His first two innings were a breeze. He gave up a single to Sean Coyle—a Top 100 shortstop that was playing designated hitter to rest a tight forearm—but struck out the side looking. In the second he got a ground out, walked a batter, picked him off and induced a fly out to retire the side. Things fell apart after he walked the leadoff hitter in the third, which he attributed to his mechanics.
“The first two innings I felt I was pretty on top of my stuff,” Biddle said. “I think towards the third inning, I let the first guy get away from me, I think I just went away from my fastball a little bit. My mechanics were a little bit off. I was throwing across my body a little more than usual.”
In the end he had pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (three earned), three hits and three walks while striking out four.
On the other side of the ball was a talented Germantown Academy squad. With two Top 100 prospects in Kish and Coyle, the Patriots ranked No. 22 in the Top 25 rankings. Kish is committed to Florida and Coyle is signed to join his older brother Tommy at North Carolina.
Kish wasn’t as sharp as Biddle the first couple of innings but overmatched opposing hitters and had a comfortable lead by the end of the third inning. His fastball was sitting 90-91 early and settled between 88-90 by the end of his outing. Germantown Academy won 14-2, ending the game in five innings. His breaking ball was sitting 74-76 and he added an 80-82 change. Kish has a good pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-3, 192 pounds and long, lean limbs.
“I felt pretty good,” Kish said. “It took me a couple innings to get going, find the zone, find what was working. As it went on I felt stronger and got more comfortable out there. It’s something to build off of.”
Kish pitched all five innings, allowing one hit, three walks and a hit by pitch while striking out eight.
“He competes no matter what,” Germantown Academy head coach John Duffy said. “He wasn’t especially sharp early. After he caught his breath and settled down he didn’t give up anything. He battled a little adversity today.”
Coyle didn’t play the field but looked electric at the plate, getting two hard singles off of Biddle and a third in the fifth inning. He finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. In the first inning he single-handedly scored the Patriots’ first run. He reached on a single through the left side, swiped second on an attempted pickoff by Biddle, stole third and scampered home when the catcher’s throw sailed over third base into left field. In his third at-bat he reached on a fielder’s choice, getting down the line in 4.2 seconds.
“I was just looking to stay balanced,” Coyle said. “Biddle is a great pitcher. I just wanted to get my pitch.”
It’s only the beginning of the season for these Northeast prospects, but the scouts came out in full force to see their stuff and will likely be back often.
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