The Philadelphia Phillies claimed a lefty reliever, and in the process released a former hometown first round draft pick.
That was the same draft and round in which Bryce Harper was selected with the 1st overall choice, Manny Machado with the #3 pick, Matt Harvey with the 7th pick, and Chris Sale went with the 13th overall pick.
After signing with the Phils for $1.16 million, Biddle began to climb through the minor league system. He was rated a top 100 prospect by Baseball America before the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and by Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com before the 2012-14 seasons.
To this point in his career, Biddle has pitched at every level of the Phillies minor league system. He has compiled a 40-45 record over parts of six minor league seasons with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.388 WHIP. He has allowed 606 hits in 677 innings, with a 660/334 K:BB ratio.
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Biddle had some control problems, as can be seen in that K:BB ratio, which is not completely unusual for a young left-hander. However, injury problems have repeatedly popped up over the last three seasons and set back his development. Finally, Biddle was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery last October.
Due to the surgery timing, Biddle will miss the entire 2016 season. Assuming he has a smooth recovery, he should be ready to return to the mound in time for spring training in 2017, at which time he will still be just 25 years old.
In designating Biddle for assignment, the club now has 10 days to either release him, waive him, or find a trade partner. The latter is unlikely, and there really is no need for the Phillies to simply release him.
The more likely scenario is that they waive him, and hope that he passes through unclaimed. Then they can assign him to the minor leagues, and retain his services going forward while hoping for positive results following that surgery recovery.
However, getting a fresh start with a new organization that doesn’t come with the extra pressure of playing for his hometown team might be a positive development for the young lefty.
The following is an interview conducted with Biddle following his dominating 16-strikeout performance over just seven innings against Harrisburg in April of 2013:
The addition that caused the Phillies to make this decision with Biddle was the claim of lefty reliever Bobby LaFromboise, who is now on this 3rd organization of the off-season. He was property of the Pittsburgh Pirates until being waived back in December, when he was then claimed by the Los Angeles Angels.
The Halos waived LaFromboise after claiming infielder Ronald Torreyes from the New York Yankees. Torreyes was only with the Angels for two days before being himself waived when the Angels acquired infielder Jefry Marte.
LaFromboise (lah-frahm-boyce) was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 8th round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of New Mexico. He reached the Majors for a cup of coffee with the 2013 Mariners, but was waived as the 2014 season opened and claimed by the San Diego Padres.
In August of 2014, LaFromboise was waived by the Friars and picked up by the Pirates. With Pittsburgh, he again reached the big leagues, earning six appearances in September for the playoff-bound Bucs team, though he was not added to the postseason roster.
After a one game stint with the Pirates in May of 2015, LaFromboise was again called up in September, and again helped Pittsburgh reach the playoffs, pitching in 10 late season games. Again he was left off the postseason roster.
In all, LaFromboise has appeared in 27 big league games over parts of three seasons. He has a 3.63 ERA with a 1.119 WHIP, allowing 20 hits in 22.1 innings, and with a 23/5 K:BB ratio.
LaFromboise will turn 30 years of age in June, so he is not a kid. The Phillies are bringing him in as yet another competitor for their 2016 bullpen, a left-handed option to compete with Elvis Araujo, Daniel Stumpf, James Russell, and possibly even starters Brett Oberholtzer and Adam Morgan for a role as a lefty in the big league pen.