Braves claim former top prospect Biddle

Rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, lefty will go on 60-day DL

March 19th, 2016
Jesse Biddle was a first-round pick of the Phillies in 2010, but has yet to live up to expectations. (AP)Charlie Neibergall/AP

TAMPA, Fla. -- Taking a chance on the upside of a former top prospect who is recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, the Braves claimed left-hander Jesse Biddle off release waivers from the Pirates.

This has been an interesting stretch for Biddle, who will be joining his third organization within a span of six weeks. The Braves are hoping that once he completes his year-long rehab, he will regain some of the promise that he possessed when ranked him as baseball's 56th-best prospect before the start of the 2014 season.

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"We've got a lot of experience with guys who are in his situation and we've seen some really good things," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "We had guys that went through this last year like Max Fried and A.J. Minter. [Biddle] is a former Top 100 prospect that our guys like and we'll just see what happens. You see the price of pitching out there. The more depth you can have, the better off you're going to be."

Because the Pirates placed Biddle on release waivers, he had the right to reject the Braves' claim. But when he spoke to Coppolella on Saturday, the 24-year-old southpaw said he planned to arrive at Atlanta's Spring Training complex by Monday. He will remain there to rehab throughout the season.

Biddle will not cost the Braves a 40-man roster spot because he will be placed on the 60-day disabled list.

"What you hope is that he can get back to what he was and that was a pretty good prospect with pretty high upside," Coppolella said. "This is a free add. There really is no downside for us."

Though he was one of baseball's Top 100 prospects from 2012-14, Biddle has not lived up to the expectations that were set when the Phillies selected the Philadelphia native with the 27th overall pick in the 2010 Draft. He has a 5.00 ERA over a total of 206 2/3 innings at the Double-A and Triple-A levels since the start of 2014.

Biddle was designated for assignment by the Phillies, then traded to the Pirates on Feb. 3. The Pirates removed the rehabbing lefty from their 40-man roster to make room for the recent signing of veteran third baseman David Freese.

Odds and ends

• Because Max Stassi will be sidelined to start the season, the Astros are looking for a backup catcher, and they could soon call the Braves about Ryan Lavarnway or Blake Lalli. The Braves signed Lalli to a Minor League deal in January when there was concern that Lavarnway might be dealing with a significant shoulder injury. There might not be reason for Atlanta to send Lavarnway and Lalli to Triple-A Gwinnett to begin the season.

• Jose Ramirez entered Spring Training as the only Braves' player out of options and has since made a strong bid to open the season in the bullpen. The hard-throwing right-hander has surrendered four hits, issued four walks and recorded seven strikeouts over 7 2/3 scoreless Grapefruit League innings.

• Daniel Winkler improved his roster bid as he completed two perfect innings in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Yankees. After being selected in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, the right-handed reliever spent most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. If the Braves do not carry him on their Major League roster through the first week of June, they would need to offer him back to the Rockies.