Welcome to the Bench: Joe Biagini

Background
Born: 5/29/1990 (25 y, 6 m, 11 d) Menlo Park, California, US
Drafted: 26th round (807th overall) in 2011 by San Fransisco Giants
Teams: No MLB Experience
Positions: Pitcher
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 215 lbs
Bat: Right
Throw: Right
Full Baseball Reference Bio

2015 Stats (AA Richmond Flying Squirrels)
G     GS      IP        W    L    CG   SHO   SV   SO    BB   ERA   FIP   WHIP  
WAR
23    22   130.1   10    7     0       0        0      84     34    2.42   3.35   1.120      N/A

The Transaction
On December 10, 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Joe Biagini from the San Fransisco Giants 10th overall in the MLB Rule 5 Draft.

What he brings to the team
New GM Ross Atkins has left his mark on the team! Although in lieu of adding an established reliever or starter, the Jays have added an inexperienced, minor-league arm to the 40 man-roster. I am not a scout, but I will do my best to read into this move the best I can.

Biagini has proven to be a very competent minor league starter. His 2.42 ERA looks impressive on the surface. But with his FIP  (3.35) being almost a full run higher than his ERA, with a pedestrian strikeout rate of 15.8% and an uncommonly low.264 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In-Play) for a contact pitcher, it’ll be interesting to see if it is sustainable. The best comparison I have read for him is as Liam Hendriks-type middle reliever, which would certainly be a welcome addition.

On MLB.com’s Top Prospects list, he is already ranked as the Blue Jays 17th best prospect. This is right between 2012 1st round left handed pitcher Matt Smoral (16) and 22 year-old first baseman Matt Dean (18). Here’s what MLB.com Prospect Watch had to say about  Biagini:

“Biagini has a plus fastball that usually operates from 91-94 mph and can hit 96. He trusts his changeup more than his curveball, though the latter shows flashes of becoming an average third offering with some depth.

Biagini has improved his control significantly during the last two years, enhancing his chances of becoming a back-of-the-rotation starter. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats because he doesn’t have a standout second offering or sharp command, so he might be best as a middle reliever who might pitch in the mid 90s in short stints.”

Why he’s on the Bench
As an unremarkable pitching prospect, there is no guarantee that Biagini will even be on the bench next season. As per the Rule 5 Draft, unless the Blue Jays make a trade for his rights (which is certainly possible), they have to keep Biagini on the big league roster or else he returns to the San Fransisco organization. His best bet to remain a Jay would be as a middle reliever. Especially considering he would have to beat out established big-leaguers such as Hutchison (although he could very well be traded or start the season in Buffalo), Chavez, Osuna and Sanchez in Spring Training to grab the fifth spot in the rotation. Think of this as more as a risk-free professional tryout, rather than an acquisition. If he doesn’t work out they can send him back where he came from.

If he does make the team, former Richmond teammate Phil McCormick has hooked up the “Biagini in a Bottle” with some sweet walk-up music:

Over/Under on how many more times I will ever write about Joe Biagini?

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