Jays From the Couch continues our 2019 Blue Jays Top Prospects list with #6, Cavan Biggio
Cavan Biggio was originally a 29th round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013, but opted not to sign and instead go to the University of Notre Dame. That turned out to be a smart move as he was able to climb all the way to the 5th round three years later, which is where the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in 2016.
Cavan, listed at 6’1 and 200 plus pounds, is the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, so it should come as no surprise that the Blue Jays, a team that is stockpiling bloodline players, were the team to nab him in the draft.
Biggio had two stops the year he was drafted, first to Vancouver and then a brief nine game stint with Lansing, where he hit a cumulative .273/.371/.349 in 280 plate appearances, playing second base on defense. His plate patience stood out in his early results, with 33 walks and 35 strike outs, but so did a lack of power as he had zero home runs over that span and a very low ISO of .076.
In 2017, his first full professional season, he got bumped up to Dunedin where he spent the entire season. Once again his ability to draw walks was a major bright spot, but he began to swing and miss a lot more (140 strike outs, a 25.2% K%), and his lack of power was apparent once again with a slightly better, but still not good enough, .130 ISO.
Largely due of his lack of power, Biggio was not considered a top prospect in the Blue Jays system through 2017.
All of that changed in 2018, and in a big way.
With launch angle and exit velocity being a big part of today’s offensive game, Biggio knew he had to make changes in order to succeed as he moved up the organizational ladder.
He ended up making those adjustments, as he himself explained in a piece by Shi Davidi in July 2018:
“I knew that I needed to get a more starting point besides my hands,” Biggio explains. “I knew that getting something to go back at a consistent time would always get me on time for when I wanted to get ready to hit.”
“I was just trying to keep the bat path in the zone more,” he says. “I kept my natural finish, which is a high finish, higher than most people. So, with the lower starting point and higher finish, it created more of a launch angle.”
Biggio’s 2018 was an eye opener. The formerly fringe prospect who seemed to be riding the coattails of Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette at each step of the minors suddenly became a legitimate power hitting threat and intriguing prospect.
Spending all season in Double-A New Hampshire, Biggio broke out and ended up hitting .252/.388/.499 in 563 plate appearances, while also winning the Eastern League MVP.
His strike out tendencies remained, as his K% was 26.3% (148 strike outs total), but he was no longer a low ISO player. Now possessing elite level “old man skills”, his ISO jumped to .247. He lead the Eastern League in home runs (26), slugging percentage (.499), and walks (100), and was 3rd in on-base percentage (.388).
Quite a feat for the 23-year old who prior to 2018 was lucky to be considered an honorable mention in prospect lists. Now he is a legitimate prospect with a real big league trajectory and ranks 6th on our list.
Defensively, Biggio was primarily playing second base in his full professional season, but that changed a bit in 2018. He saw 68 games at second base, 22 at first, 34 at third, 1 at short, and 2 in the outfield. He also played mostly outfield in the Arizona Fall League (which took place after the 2018 minor league season ended), where he hit .262/.405/.415 in 84 plate appearances.
Biggio will start 2019 in AAA Buffalo. It appears likely that he will be playing second base, but given his recent history, he might be playing all over the field once again to improve his versatility as he gets one step closer to the big leagues.
He is not on the 40-man roster as of yet, and the team is in no rush to add him, so it might be closer to the end of the season where he sees his first big league action, if not the start of the 2020 season. If the Blue Jays are out of it in July, then they will likely end up trading a bunch of their veterans, which will in turn open up 40-man roster spots and playing time. Given Biggio’s age (2019 will be his age 24 season), he will not need much time in the minors if his performance in AAA is anything like it was in AA, and he could be a realistic call-up mid-season assuming the team dismantles at the deadline.
Obviously, given his offensive profile, he will become much more valuable as a player if he can stick at second base, but today’s era of baseball welcomes players with the ability to cover multiple positions. The main thing that will determine Biggio’s long-term future will be his bat, and 2019 will be a big test to see whether he can maintain his power surge as he moves up to AAA and eventually the Majors.
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Srikant Kabse is a long time baseball fan, accountant, and writer. He currently resides in New Jersey, but grew up in Scarborough Ontario where his love for the sport and for the Blue Jays began as a child. Aside from baseball, Srikant’s interests include fitness, basketball, and traveling.