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What to expect from Toronto Blue Jays rookie Joe Biagini

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Looking for cheap bullpen reinforcement, the Toronto Blue Jays selected right-hander Joe Biagini out of the San Francisco Giants system in the December 2015 Rule 5 draft. Biagini made the team out of spring training. Can he stick all year? Let's take a look.

First, from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:

Joe Biagini, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 215 DOB: May 29, 1990

Biagini was drafted in the 26th round in 2011, by the San Francisco Giants from the University of California-Davis. He’s been a reliable inning-eater but was behind other pitchers on the Giants depth chart; the Blue Jays snatched him up in the 2015 Rule 5 draft. He is a fastball/change-up guy, hitting 90-95 with the heater and keeping hitters off-stride with the softer stuff. He usually throws strikes, but his curveball is mediocre at best; this shows up sabermetrically as a low strikeout rate. On the surface Biagini has the body and track record to be a workhorse rotation arm. However, I think he fits best in the bullpen unless he develops a better breaking ball. He could be quite good as a middle reliever. Grade C.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:

In Double-A last year in the Giants system he posted a 2.42 ERA in 130 innings as a starter, with an 84/34 K/BB. As noted he did a good job eating innings but the strikeout rate was low. The thinking was that his stuff could play up in the bullpen, where he could rely on the fastball and change-up while using his slurvy curve in shorter doses.

Biagini threw nine innings in spring training, posting a 4.00 ERA with eight hits and three walks allowed, fanning eight. That's not excellent, but it isn't bad, either, and is a reasonable approximation of his ability based on what he was doing in the minors.

At this stage Biagini is a generic mop-up/middle reliever. He'll need a better breaking ball to move beyond that. He's been working on a cutter/slider to compliment his other offerings. The key thing to watch for would be any spike in his strikeout rate.