LAKEWOOD, N.J. (CBS) – These are good days for Jesse Biddle.  The 19-year-old lefthander, a lifelong Phillies fan who went to Germantown Friends School, is enjoying his first full season in his favorite team’s minor league system.

And the Phillies’ 2010 first-round pick is starting to hit his stride in the rotation of Single-A Lakewood.

Biddle dominated Delmarva on Sunday night, pitching seven innings and allowing just an unearned run on four hits in picking up the 4-1 win.

That victory improved him to 3-1 in his last five starts, a far cry from his 0-4 start.   And the seven innings was the deepest he’s gone in a game this season.

Overall, the 6’4″ lefthander is 3-5 for the BlueClaws, with a 4.11 ERA in ten starts.

Biddle says he had no doubt he would come through the struggles, and come through a better pitcher.

“It was just a matter of time before I did, because I have a lot of confidence in myself, a lot of confidence in myself as a pitcher,” he told KYW Newsradio.  “And I know the Phillies have confidence in me, too — they would not have drafted me if they didn’t.  So it was really just a matter of sticking with it.

“Because as soon as you start having bad outings, you can’t let that get into your head, and you have to remain focused,” Biddle said.  “You have to go back to basics.  That was one of the things I definitely did — I just went back to what I was doing in high school when I was successful, because it’s the same baseball game.  You are still throwing sixty feet, six inches.”

Listen to Matt Leon’s full interview with Jesse Biddle in this CBS Philly SportsPod…

Chris Truby, Biddle’s manager at Lakewood, likes what he sees in his prize lefthander.

“He’s really settled in and he’s working his butt off,” says Truby.  “And the work is showing on the mound now.  He goes out there, he’s always competed.  He can get by just on his competitiveness, but we want him to be able to go deeper into games.  And he’s been doing things to do that.”

Like most high school first-round picks, Biddle was dominant as an amateur, so even now when he is pitching very well as a pro he still has to overcome those moments when he wonders, how did that guy hit that pitch?

“Oh, definitely,” Biddle says.  “You’ve got a guy 0-2 and you throw a good curveball and he hits a single off it, you’re just . . . confused.  But you know, I had that last year (after signing).  I also played in some big tournaments (with) some of these guys that were going in the first round, so I pitched against good competition before.  It’s more the consistency of the good hitters coming up.  In high school you might have a couple of guys who can swing the bat a little bit, but for the most part you can kind of lose focus to the bottom of the line-up and just kind of throw the ball down the middle.  But here? These 9-hitters, 8-hitters… they are still good hitters, they are still playing pro ball every day.  That was one of the biggest things I needed to work on, just maintaining focus on each hitter.”

Biddle is having success right now throwing three pitches — fastball, change-up, and curve ball.  He threw a slider in high school but says that has been put on the shelf for the time being.

He says the curve ball is a big reason why he has hit his stride the last month or so.

“It’s been ‘lights out’ for me.  I’ve been able to throw it with two strikes and get a lot of strikeouts with it,” he says.

And Truby says that Biddle’s “stuff” is top-shelf.

“He’s throwing his breaking ball, it’s sharp as ever.  I think the biggest thing is he is starting to get comfortable with his change-up and being a starting pitcher as you go through the levels, that’s a weapon that you need to have.  He’s getting a little more comfortable with it and throwing it in some odd counts and I think that’s the biggest thing, developmental, his change-up’s getting better.  But overall his fastball is crisp, his breaking ball has always been sharp — maybe have to force him to use it a little bit more at times.  His stuff is there, it’s just a matter of learning when and where to use it and trusting it.”

Just spending a few minutes with Biddle, it becomes very obvious that he is savoring every day, not just a pro but as a member of organization he grew up rooting for.

“I look down and I’m wearing a Phillies ‘P’ and I just feel good.  It just makes me feel like everything is working out,” Biddle says.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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