|Aaron Nola, image- Jay Floyd|
The six-foot-one 196-pounder was a First Team All-American in his junior season at LSU last year, posting an 11-1 record along with a 1.47 ERA and a 10.37 K/9 mark in 16 starts. He enjoyed a tremendous college career, twice winning SEC Player of the Year honors while compiling a 30-6 overall record with a 2.09 ERA in three seasons.
Nola signed quickly with the Phils and made his pro debut as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers on June 23rd, taking a loss by allowing four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Over his following five starts, Nola let up seven earned runs in 24 innings (2.63 ERA) and earned a promotion to Double-A.
With Reading, the 21-year-old Nola would close out his season with a 2-0 record and a 2.63 ERA in five games.
Overall, in 12 minor league appearances (11 starts) last year, the Louisiana native tallied a 4-3 record as well as a 2.93 ERA along with 45 strike outs and 10 walks in 55 1/3 innings.
Over the off-season, Nola worked hard, using the Phils' mandated routine and throwing program as guidelines. Able to use the LSU facilities to stay in shape, Nola would throw to his brother, Austin, an infielder with the Marlins.
Often praised for his precision control, Nola is not seen as overpowering. With a clean, potent delivery, the durable youngster is projected as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. He has a repertoire that features a low-to-mid-90's fastball that has nice movement, a change up with great upside and a curve ball, which he throws for strikes, that will supplement the other two offerings quite well.
Fearless on the mound, Nola goes after the opposition and isn't afraid to give up a run or two for the good of the team, but certainly doesn't need to do so in order to work out of jams.
Nola, who grew up admiring former Phillie Pedro Martinez, was previously drafted by Toronto out of high school in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft, but did not sign. His college coach, Paul Mainieri, also coached Brad Lidge at Notre dame.
It is likely that Nola will open the 2015 season as Reading's opening day starter. He'll continue to be on the fast track toward the big leagues for sure and should debut there before the end of the season.
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