The Phillies of the past were a team of “aces” with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. These pitchers were supposed to be the focus of a team that would go on to win multiple World Series Championships. But only one championship came, and much of that core staff was not together when this happened.
A new ace was drafted this season in former LSU star pitcher, Aaron Nola. In Nola the Phillies have a player who is not only expected to join the Phillies rotation quickly, but to be an ace for years to come.
While pitching at LSU, one of the best baseball schools in the nation, Nola put together a dominating 2.09 career ERA with a 30-6 record. He also struck out over a batter per inning in his career and completed seven of his 49 starts. Hitters rarely reached base against him as he showcased impeccable command while holding hitters to a minuscule .201 career batting average against.
As his college career went on, his numbers steadily improved. After an impressive sophomore season where he had a 1.57 ERA, his numbers got even better as a junior when he posted a 1.47 ERA. He also improved in strikeouts and lowered his opponent’s batting average during each college season.
Nola not only put up great stats at LSU, but he was also one of the most decorated pitchers selected in the entire draft. After being a freshman All-American in 2012, Nola was first team All-American during his final two college seasons. Although he pitched in the SEC, which is often viewed as the best baseball conference in the nation, Nola was the first ever two time SEC pitcher of the year. During his final season, he was also a finalist for both the Golden Spikes and the Dick Howser Awards which are the top awards given to college baseball players.
After being selected with the 7th pick, many scouts view Nola as pitcher who is on the fastest track to the major leagues. He quickly signed and has already debuted for the Phillies with their high A team in Clearwater. With success there it would not be out of the question for him to move up to AA by season’s end. While he is not a physical monster at 6’2” 170 pounds, his sinking fastball helps him to miss many bats. He also possesses both a curveball and a changeup that are considered plus pitches as well.
In the past when the Phillies looked to add aces, they often went outside of the organization. With Nola, the Phillies have a pitcher who has all the makings of a future ace on the way. While the other stars failed to build a dynasty, Nola can be the ace that can put the Phillies back on top for the next decade.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference