Blue Jays' Cavan Biggio Looking To Learn In Arizona Fall League
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Each of the more than 200 players assigned to the Arizona Fall League comes to the Southwest desert with goals assigned by their parent organization. It may be a new skill to work on, a new pitch to develop, a change to their approach at the plate, or just to get more time on the field after missing part of the regular season to injury.
For Blue Jays prospect Cavan Biggio, his directive is quite simple — learn to play the outfield. Primarily a second baseman during his three-year pro career and in his time at Notre Dame, the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio has played just four games in the outfield as a pro.
“I’m coming out here to play mainly outfield,” Biggio said. “They (Blue Jays management) want me to be kind of a super-utility guy. (The goal is to) learn as much as I can in the outfield from these coaches and get me ready for next year.”
Had Biggio come to the AFL a year earlier his main development goal may have been different, but he took care of that particular weakness on his own during last offseason. After hitting just 26 home runs combined over his three college seasons and three pro seasons, Biggio exploded to slam 26 long balls with Double-A New Hampshire in 2018.
“I went into the offseason trying to keep my bat path in the zone longer because I noticed that my bat wasn’t in the zone too long, so I lowered my hands,” Biggio said, “I wasn’t really trying get loft on the ball. ... With my lower hands I have a higher finish (and) was hitting more fly balls than I was normally. The doubles in the gap that I would hit last year, this year they would turn into home runs. ... Trying to keep my bat path in the zone created more loft even though I wasn’t really trying to do the whole launch angle thing.”
A scout from an American League organization saw the results of the changes this summer, adding that Biggio has a good swing from an upright position, a good batting eye and a solid approach.
Biggio said that the changes in his swing came from observing other hitters during his 2017 season in high Class A and watching video of himself, noticing that he wasn’t giving himself the best chance to make contact with the ball and having to be perfect with his timing.
This intelligent approach at the plate jives with what scouts have seen, with a scout from another American League organization remarking that Biggio is a smart hitter but adding that “the tools are just OK for me.”
When asked whether he’s the type of guy who plays above his tools, Biggio remarked that he wasn’t familiar with that label before talking about the kind of player that he sees in himself.
“As a player or the competitor that I am,” Biggio said, “I consider that I just get after it. I’m not the fastest guy in the world, but I’m going to steal some bases when I see something that I can go on in a specific situation. I just play the game hard and try to win. ... If you just play with the mentality that I’ve been taught my whole life, then good things work out.”
That mentality and smarts for the game is something that he certainly picked up during his three years at Notre Dame.
“College benefited me really well as a player and especially as a person,” Biggio said. “It toughened me up and it kicked me down, but it was the best thing for me.”
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Even before the official versions of the Arizona Fall League rosters were released in late August, word among insiders was already spreading that the Surprise Saguaros team would be absolutely stacked with premier prospects. A lot of that special talent is coming from the Blue Jays organization, most noticeably Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. Even with infielder Bo Bichette being scratched from the roster due to lingering injuries, there are still several other Toronto players to watch including the aforementioned Biggio and right-handers Nate Pearson and Zach Jackson.
Other intriguing prospects on the Surprise roster include Khalil Lee (Royals), Bryan Reynolds (Pirates), Will Craig (Pirates), Julio Pablo Martinez (Rangers), Cole Tucker (Pirates), Connor Jones (Cardinals), C.D. Pelham (Rangers) and Demarcus Evans (Rangers).
This year’s AFL managerial lineup is Glendale Desert Dogs: Dave Anderson (Orioles), Mesa Solar Sox: Lou Marson (Angels), Peoria Javelinas: Daren Brown (Mariners), Salt River Rafters: Tommy Watkins (Twins), Scottsdale Scorpions: Willie Harris (Giants), and Surprise Saguaros: Stubby Clapp (Cardinals).
Marson, Harris and Clapp each performed in the league during their respective playing careers, while Brown previously managed the Javelinas in 2008. Harris was also a member of the Chicago White Sox 2005 championship team that swept the Astros in four World Series games.
The 2018 Arizona Fall League season kicks off on Tuesday with day games at Peoria and Surprise, followed by a night game at Scottsdale.