The Phillies on Friday announced that pitcher Bobby LaFromboise had been claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In order to make room for him on the roster, the Phillies announced a corresponding move, designating lefty Jesse Biddle for assignment.
It has been a steep fall for Biddle, who was generally recognized as a top prospect in the organization as recently as three or four years ago. (Baseball America had Biddle #1 in 2012.)
Injury issues have hampered Biddle's career, from the freak hail incident of 2014 to elbow troubles in 2015. The left elbow will cost Biddle his 2016 season, as he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery back in mid-October.
Biddle ascended through the Phillies' system relatively quickly after being drafted in 2010, ending up in Reading in 2014. He struggled there, posting a 3-10 record with a 5.05 ERA in 16 starts for the Phillies' AA squad. While he had a decent 8.8 K/9 rate, he struggled with his control, allowing 4.8 BB/9.
Biddle did finally taste AAA in 2015, but struggled there as well, walking 27 in just 44 2/3 innings while posting a 6.25 ERA in nine starts. This came after posting relatively pedestrian numbers in Reading (7-2, 4.24 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9).
This move is not a major surprise. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com had hinted at year's end that he could be removed from the 40-man roster, and that has now come to fruition.
Biddle's chances of being assigned to the minors, just on initial reaction, would seem to be pretty good. It's hard to imagine anyone claiming a guy who has had Tommy John and has steadily declined performance-wise over the past few seasons. For now, all the Phillies can hope for is a proper and clean rehab schedule for Biddle to set up for a return in 2017.
In LaFromboise, the Phillies are picking up a left-handed pitcher who will fight for a bullpen spot. The Angels had just claimed the 29-year-old off waivers from the Pirates a few days before Christmas. The Angels designated LaFromboise for assignment earlier this week to make room for Ronald Torreyes, claimed off waivers from the Yankees. The joy of off-season move-making, eh?
He spent most of last year with the Pirates' AAA affiliate in Indianapolis, with a 2.98 ERA, 8.6 K/9, and 3.5 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings. He did also grab a cup of coffee with the big club, appearing in four games and logging eight innings of work.
He has pitched in 27 games in his MLB career, with lefties hitting just .211/.231/.342 against him in 39 PA. Yes, it's a very small sample size, but the numbers have held up in the minors as well. He will join a crowded bunch fighting for a spot in the bullpen this spring. But unlike David Hernandez, Andrew Bailey and Edward Mujica, LaFromboise has something going for him: the southpaw factor. When camp begins, he could be fighting for that precious LOOGY spot.