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Blue Jays take Biagini in Rule 5 Draft

Righty will likely convert to reliever in Spring Training

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Blue Jays added some depth to their pitching staff on Thursday morning by selecting right-hander Joe Biagini in the Rule 5 Draft.

Biagini went 10-7 with a 2.42 ERA in 23 games for Double-A Richmond of the Giants' organization. He struck out 84 and walked 34 while posting a 1.12 WHIP over 130 1/3 innings.

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Biagini made all but one of his appearances in 2015 as a starter, but the Blue Jays anticipate using him out of the bullpen next season. Biagini will transition to that role during Spring Training, but the 25-year-old will have an opportunity to compete for a rotation job while in camp.

"He was really high on our board," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. "At some points, he would have been the first pick for us. There were another couple of guys who were in the mix, but a powerful right-handed pitcher that potentially will shorten up, we'll put him in shorter stints and see if there is some upside to his stuff."

The Blue Jays will pay $50,000 to the Giants as compensation for the pick. Toronto will have to keep Biagini on its 25-man roster for the entire season, and he must remain active for at least 90 days. If Biagini does not remain on the roster, he would have to be offered back to San Francisco for $25,000.

There are ways around that rule, and it's possible the two organizations would be able to work out a trade if the Blue Jays wanted to use Biagini in a different capacity. Toronto had five open spots on its 40-man roster, so in a lot of ways, it's a no-lose situation for the ballclub.

The Blue Jays are in the process of overhauling their bullpen. Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez and Brett Cecil are expected to anchor the back end of the 'pen, but after that trio, there are a lot of question marks. The current internal candidates for the remaining positions include: Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz, Chad Jenkins, Steve Delabar and now Biagini.

"A lot to learn about the guy. That's one of the beauties of a Rule 5 Draft," Atkins said of Biagini. "We'll have some time to evaluate and make a decision on if it fits."

Biagini was originally taken in the 26th round of the 2011 Draft. His fastball hits the low 90s, but there's a possibility that he will see an uptick in velocity with a transition to the bullpen. He also has a curveball and a changeup in his repertoire.

In four Minor League seasons, Biagini is 29-30 with a 4.06 ERA, with 86 of his 89 appearances coming as a starter. Toronto selected Biagini in the first round of the Rule 5 Draft and then opted to pass on a second-round selection. The club also declined to make a pick in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

"Really comes down to the level of interest, how much upside and then what our alternatives are internally," Atkins said when asked why Toronto didn't make a pick in the Minor League portion. "One of the things we feel strongly about it is giving the opportunity and being committed to the players that we've drafted, we've developed."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
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