Jesse Biddle can't wait to get his 2013 season going.
In attendance for the Phillies winter charity banquet at Lakewood's Woodlake Country Club last week, Biddle looked forward to the event for weeks, as he feels rubbing elbows with Phils brass like assistant general manager Benny Looper, director of player development Joe Jordan, and manager Charlie Manuel, as well as seeing the fans, kicks things into baseball mode after a lengthy stretch of winter weather all throughout his home region in western Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
"I love coming back for events like this," Biddle said with a smile. "This is my Lakewood family. Being around the whole environment here, everybody is just so excited to be talking baseball again right now. It's January, so there's not a lot of baseball stories right now and to be able to come to something like this, it just gets me ready for the season."
Following a strong campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater in which Biddle sported a 10-6 record, a 3.22 ERA and a 9.53 K/9 mark, the 21-year-old is expected to take a step upward and pitch for Double-A Reading in 2013. Biddle made sure to increase the intensity of his routine this off-season, as he is aware the competition will only get tougher as he ascends up the developmental ladder.
"Everything (this off-season) has been harder. I think last year I was pushing a little bit more heavy weight type exercises and now I'm starting to do more cardio, as well as weights. And when I was training last year, it was two times a week and now it's four times a week. It's just upped a level and that's how it's going to be every off-season, everything's just going to get harder and harder," Biddle expressed with determination.
A Philadelphia native, Biddle was the team's top draft selection (27th overall) in 2010 out of Germantown Friends School. Although he's been to countless games in Philadelphia at Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park, during his days growing up as a fan, he has never been to a game at Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium, where the 6-foot-5 235-pounder stands an excellent chance to begin the upcoming season.
Asked to express his level of excitement toward the possibility of taking the mound in Reading, which is just about 60 miles outside of the city and in the heart of Philadelphia sports fan territory, Biddle was beyond delighted at the potential.
"Excited isn't even the word, 'cause as soon as I got drafted, anybody who knows anything about the Phillies, the first thing that comes to (mind with) the Phillies name, when it comes to minor league baseball, is Reading, so I had people coming out of nowhere saying, 'Can't wait to watch you in Reading!' Everyone's been saying that to me for years now and I can't wait to actually get the opportunity to pitch for my hometown and pitch for my family."