Pirates acquire rehabbing lefty Jesse Biddle from Phillies
February 3, 2016 6:28 PM
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
Phillies pitcher Jesse Biddle throws during a spring training game in March 2015 in Clearwater, Fla.
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press
Jesse Biddle, 24, is a former first-round pick.
By Stephen J. Nesbitt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pirates, a haven for pitchers who need repairs, added another reclamation project to their roster Wednesday by acquiring left-hander Jesse Biddle from the Philadelphia Phillies in return for right-handed starter Yoervis Medina, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster last week.
Biddle, 24, is a former first-round draft pick whose career was stalled by various injuries, the latest of which required Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in October. Given a usual recovery time of 12 to 18 months, Biddle will not be ready to pitch in the 2016 season.
“This wasn’t a move made to benefit the 2016 club,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “This is a move made to benefit us three years down the road.”
The Pirates designated right-hander A.J. Schugel for assignment to make room for Biddle on the 40-man roster.
Biddle was drafted 27th overall in 2010 after starring at Germantown Friends High School in Philadelphia. The hometown boy’s dreams of playing for the Phillies were dealt a final blow last week when he was designated for assignment, and now he has been traded away.
Huntington called the move “an upside play” that could pay off down the road should Biddle return to form. The Pirates, like many teams, saw Biddle’s potential as a young prospect. Their aim now is to help him eventually realize that potential to become a quality major league starter.
Biddle, who has worked exclusively as a starter, long looked to be on a sure path to the majors. From 2012-14, he jumped up the MLB.com prospect rankings from No. 78 to 61 to 53 before he was derailed by whooping cough and a hailstorm that caused a concussion, among other mishaps and maladies.
In May 2014, Biddle was driving through Reading, Pa., when a hailstorm swept overhead. He suffered a concussion after his back windshield shattered and, while he stepped out of the car to run for cover, he was hit in the back of the head by a hailstone. His next five starts at Class AA Reading: 0-5 with a 9.82 ERA.
Last year, Biddle opened the season with Reading, where he went 7-2 with a 5.13 ERA, then made nine starts for Class AAA Lehigh Valley, going 2-4 with a 6.25 ERA. His strikeout rate (6.4) in 2015 was the lowest of his minor league career. He struck out 10 per nine innings in 2013.
Biddle ended last season on the disabled list with a shoulder strain and had Tommy John surgery Oct. 14.
“We recognize that as you trade for a player that’s in the early stages of a Tommy John rehabilitation, there’s risk,” Huntington said. “We recognize that, but we felt the upside this young man brings to the organization is worth that opportunity.”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.
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