It was the kind of night that conceives dreams; the kind of night that leaves baseball people speechless; the kind of night that affirms countless hours of work.
Jesse Biddle pitched in an Eastern League game Monday night in Harrisburg and retired the first 19 batters he faced. He completed seven innings, allowed one hit and two walks, and struck out 16. He twice doubled and scored a run.
"Wow," one Phillies minor-league official said.
Biddle -- the Germantown Friends product, former first-round pick and top Phillies prospect -- is following the plan. This was but one of what figures to be an entire season of starts at double A. He is 21 and the Phillies will treat him like they treat all of their prospects: with caution.
But this was the kind of night that puts Biddle on the national radar. He entered 2013 as Baseball America's 89th-ranked prospect.
He set a Reading franchise record with those 16 strikeouts, eclipsing the old mark of 13 held by Randy Wolf and Adam Walker. Four times -- in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings -- Biddle fanned the side.
"That was about as good as it gets," Reading manager Dusty Wathan told the Reading Eagle. "That was very special tonight."
Biddle carried a perfect game into the seventh inning vs. Harrisburg, Washington's double-A affiliate. He threw a mere 73 pitches in those six innings and struck out 13. Anything more pristine is near impossible.
With one out, he reached his first three-ball count and then walked Sean Nicol. The next hitter, Destin Hood, singled to right. Biddle loaded the bases with two outs but was permitted to remain in the game. He struck out Randolph Oduber on his 104th pitch to end a magnificent start.
"It was one of those days my approach worked perfectly in the game," Biddle said in a postgame interview.
Through four starts at Reading, Biddle has a 2.16 ERA with 30 strikeouts and nine walks in 25 innings. The opposition is hitting .125 against him.