According to Jim Salisbury, the Pittsburgh Pirates are about to acquire left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle from the Philadelphia Phillies. Other sources have confirmed the deal. No word on what they will give up for the former top prospect. Biddle had Tommy John surgery in mid-October, so he is out for the entire 2016 season.
Confirming @MattGelb Jesse Biddle traded. He is headed to Pirates, source says. Not sure of return at this point
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) February 3, 2016
Update 12:00 PM: Biddle was designated for assignment by the Phillies last week. He was added to their 40-man roster in November 2014 and with him not pitching at all in 2016, he will use his second option this season if the Pirates keep him on the 40-man roster. Biddle was once a top prospect, getting selected in the first round in 2010 out of high school. At 6’5″, 235 pounds, he’s a big lefty, who was a reliable workhorse type starter before the surgery, though he did miss some time during the 2014 season due to an injury to his non-throwing arm. He also had a concussion early in the year, which they say had an effect on his performance into June. He turned 24 in October.
Biddle split this past season between AA and AAA, posting a combined 4.95 ERA in 24 starts, though his ERA in AAA was 6.25 in 44.2 innings. He has been a high strikeout pitcher in the past, including 154 in 138.1 innings with Reading(AA) in 2013. He has also had his issues with walks, topping out at 82 that same season. Biddle has a career .240 BAA and he’s been a fly ball pitching most of his career, posting an 0.95 GO/AO ratio.
Baseball America twice had him among the top 100 prospects, ranking #89 in 2012 and #71 in 2013. During that same time, he was the Phillies top ranked prospect in 2012 and second best in both 2011 and 2013. Both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com had him in their top 100 each year from 2012 until 2014, topping out at #53(MLB, pre-2014).
He throws his fastball low-90’s, with a mid-70’s curve that has been called a plus pitch. BA calls his slider “mid-80’s with bite” and he has a changeup with good fading action. If he returns to that form after he recovers from the TJ surgery, then his upside is as a back-end of the rotation starter.
Update 1:47 PM: The Pirates gave up RHP Yoervis Medina to acquire Biddle. Medina just cleared waivers last week and was sent to Indianapolis, so the Phillies didn’t like him enough to use a 40-man roster spot on him, but now they get him as a minor leaguer. The Pirates had to make a move to clear a 40-man spot for Biddle, so they designated RHP A.J. Schugel for assignment. He was picked up on January 19th, which was the same day the Pirates DFA’d Medina.