Friday, March 27, 2015

Nola shines brightly in big league spring debut

spring-training-2015Clouds and rain showers couldn't prevent the Phillies' top pitching prospect from shining on Friday when he took the mound for the first time in a big league spring training game.

In three innings of work in relief against the Yankees, Aaron Nola allowed five hits and no runs while striking out four and walking none. His efforts included punch outs of legendary sluggers Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran.

Those getting their first look at Nola took notice of the polished control of his three pitches and his comfort level on the mound. His fast ball ranged from 92 to 94 MPH with movement, his change up was used to his advantage, , making some batters look foolish, and his breaking ball supplemented both of the other offerings nicely, keeping the opposition guessing.

Nola was taken with the seventh overall selection in last year's MLB amateur draft. He sported a 4-3 record with a 2.93 ERA and a .240 batting average against in 12 combined games for Class A Advanced Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

Prior to signing with the Phils, Nola was twice honored as SEC player of the year while compiling a 30-6 overall record with a 2.09 ERA in three seasons at LSU.

On Friday, the 21-year-old pitched in relief of Jonathan Papelbon, who started the game when the weather forecast threatened his outing as a reliever. Papelbon tossed a scoreless frame, lowering his spring ERA to 1.50 in six appearances.

Entering the fifth inning, the game was a scoreless tie, but a troublesome appearance by Jake Diekman and additional relief by Hector Neris coughed up seven runs before the Phillies could take their turn at bat for the inning. Game still in progress. Check back later for more.

 In a rain-shortened affair, the Yankees were victorious by a score of 10-0, thanks to a 15-hit attack on Phils hurlers.  Diekman was charged with seven earned runs in 1/3 inning, taking his Grapefruit League season ERA to 12.27.  Neris surrendered three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.

Catcher Cameron Rupp notched his 10th hit this spring, taking his batting average to .400 in 12 games.  Rule 5 pick up Odubel Herrera went 1-for-2 placing his spring average at .354.  Infielder Cesar Hernandez sports a .098 average this spring, following a 0-for-2 effort in the contest.

The Phils are back in action on Saturday, when they will take on the Twins.
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