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Phillies prospect Aaron Nola debuts today

Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Top Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Aaron Nola will make his major league debut today against the Tampa Bay Rays. Here's a quick profile.

Aaron Nola opened his freshman year in the starting rotation of the Louisiana State University Tigers in 2012, backing up their ace pitching anchor Kevin Gausman. Aaron's older brother Austin was the starting shortstop. Aaron Nola performed quite well with a 3.61 ERA in 90 innings with an outstanding 89/7 K/BB ratio. He was just getting started though: his sophomore season (12-1, 1.57, 122/18 K/BB in 126 innings) and junior campaign (11-1, 1.47, 134/27 K/BB in 116 innings) were both spectacular. He was rated as the most polished college arm available in the 2014 draft by most experts and was selected by the Phillies in the first round, seventh overall.

He has arrived in the major leagues just over a year after being drafted as minor league hitters weren't much of a challenge. This year he posted a 1.88 ERA with a 59/9 K/BB in 77 innings for Double-A Reading, followed by a 3.58 ERA and a 33/9 K/BB in 33 innings since being promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. All told he has a 2.57 ERA in 165 minor league innings with a 137/28 K/BB and 146 hits allowed.

Nola is a 6-1, 195 pounder born June 4, 1993. He doesn't throw 100 MPH but he doesn't need to: his 90-95 MPH fastball has sufficient velocity and more-than-sufficient movement to be an effective pitch, His breaking ball is variously described as a slider or hard curve. He also has a change-up which has shown improvement since college. He commands all of his pitches very well and his unconventional mechanics add deception to the package.

Nola is a good athlete and has held up well to a full college and professional workload. His makeup and mound presence are also considered excellent.

International League hitters weren't going to teach him anything new at this stage so bringing Nola to Philadelphia is a logical decision. Most observers project him as a number three starter once he settles in, which is also a logical view given his stuff profile. However, Nola has consistently beat expectations since his sophomore year in college. One he gets some big league innings under his belt, it is quite possible he could take a step beyond being "just" a solid inning eater.

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