CLEARWATER, Fla. --- Aaron Nola, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, pitched three scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut Friday afternoon against the New York Yankees.
Nola gave up five hits, including two doubles, but struck out four while walking none. The 21-year-old righthander relied heavily on his fastball early before mixing in an effective change-up and his curveball. He threw 45 pitches in all.
Nola, the seventh overall pick in last June's draft, is expected to start the season headlining the double-A Reading rotation. This was merely a cameo with the big-league club. He pitched the second, third and fourth innings. Although he was slated to start, the Phillies started closer Jonathan Papelbon because of the impending rain.
Nola surrendered back-to-back hits in his first inning of work - a single to Alex Rodriguez and a double to Stephen Drew - but escaped damage when rightfielder Jeff Francoeur gunned out Rodriguez at the plate on a Chris Young fly ball.
He gave up another double in his second inning, this one to nine-hole hitter Brendan Ryan, but again stranded a runner in scoring position. With Ryan on third base, Nola struck out Chase Headley on a 94 mile-per-hour fastball down in the strike zone and Carlos Beltran swinging with an 82 mile-per-hour changeup.