Jesse Biddle has dreamed about this day, waited for ever since he first picked up a baseball. The irony is the potential first-round major league draft pick is going to do everything in his power to forget this day has finally arrived.
So the 6-5, 235-pound Germantown Friends lefthanded pitcher will swim with his cousins, hang out with his girlfriend, and eventually sit on the edge of a couch with his family in Havertown, eagerly awaiting a phone call as the first round takes place in the 3-day Major League Baseball amateur draft.
The call could come from the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels, or even the Phillies, for whom Biddle threw in a private workout at Citizens Bank Park last Wednesday. Those are the teams that have shown the most interest in the University of Oregon-bound Biddle, who has posted a 9-2 record with a 1.06 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings, giving up a mere 9 earned runs this season.
Biddle, 18, led the Tigers to their seventh straight Friends Schools League title. He did it with an overpowering fastball that has been clocked as high as 96 mph, and averaged 91-93 mph. He's added a slider to his repertoire of pitches, which also includes a curveball.
He has received feedback that he could go anywhere in the first round to a top-40 overall pick. Oregon's coaches have acknowledged the faint possibility of him reaching the Pac-10 school.
Biddle credits a rare down moment for the status he holds today - when a team didn't want him - for his motivation in preparing for this season. Biddle was cut from the under-18 Team USA last summer, after giving up just one hit in five innings.
"I guess I wasn't a great fit for them, and when I was cut, I was really sad," Biddle recalled. "Always had this self-confidence that when I was a senior, I would be drafted. But after getting cut, I didn't know how that would turn out.
"I knew how much work I put into making the Team USA and I pitched well in big games. It was an emotional ride. I took a day off after I was cut and started working out again in my USA Baseball T-shirt.
"One of the big things I did was look at myself in the mirror and that made me work that much harder in the offseason to elevate my game to a whole new level. I think it's why I've had the kind of senior season that I've had. I looked at my tryout with Team USA positively. I pitched and gave up one hit in five innings against the best high school players in the country. That got me even more charged up. I decided I'm not resting on this, because maybe I didn't work hard enough to make Team USA."
What could happen tonight or tomorrow - because all indications are that Biddle won't sink past the third round - is anyone's guess. Atlanta and Milwaukee flew him to their facilities to interview him, but he wouldn't mind if a certain local team that has the 27th overall pick takes a look at him.
"I love the West Coast, but my preference is toward the Phillies," Biddle said. "I know growing up around Philly that Philly fans are tough on the Phillies, but it's my hometown team. That's where I'd want to go, and I'll obviously take anything over that."
As the days have passed, as the minutes tick into hours today, Biddle is finding out what was a surreal moment is becoming more and more tangible. Biddle carries a tiny book called "The Seven Spiritual Laws To Success," and he'll consult with that a few times over these next few days. He'll use that, too, to keep his mind off everything surrounding him.
"I've shown that I'm signable and I see this whole thing as a win-win situation," said Biddle, who has an adviser, Adam Karon, who works for Sosnick and Cobbe, a sports agency based in San Francisco. "Either I'm going to be pitching for Oregon, or I'm pitching in the minor leagues for the team that drafts me. For a long time, I always thought I'd play major league baseball. It's just a matter of what route it takes to get there."