Next up on the top 50 prospects list is another signing from the 2011 draft, who has tremendous upside and the tools to be a standout hurler in the future…
No. 40: Mark Austin Biggs
Starting pitcher / 18 years old / 6′3″ 205 lbs
Born: May 10, 1993 in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Bats: Right Throws: Right
High School: Warren East H.S. (Bowling Green, KY)
Drafted By: The Toronto Blue Jays in the 8th round (259th overall) of the 2011 Amateur Draft
Signed: August 18, 2011
Pre-2011 Rank: N/A
- Hit .444/.528/.949 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs as a position player this past season
- Big baseball fan overall, didn’t have a favorite team growing up
- Currently admires Phillies ace and former Blue Jay Roy Halladay
- Had committed to the University of Louisville prior to signing with the Jays
- Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_Biggs
2011 high school pitching stats:
Extra Information and previous experience:
When it was the Blue Jays’ turn to choose in the eighth round of the 2011 draft, they used the 259th overall selection on Mr. Baseball, also known as Mark Biggs.
Two weeks after being drafted by a big league club, Biggs was given “Mr. Baseball” honors by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association. Playing for the Warren East Raidiers in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Biggs went 44-for-99 (.444) at the plate with a 1.477 OPS and 47 RBIs. He also hit a team-leading 12 home runs, added 12 doubles and went 17-for-18 in stolen bases for good measure en route to being named to the KHSBCA first-team All-State roster.
Dismissing his video game-like numbers as a position player, the Blue Jays drafted Biggs because he’s actually quite a pitching prospect.
Leading Warren East to their first Region 4 Tournament Championship in 24 years, Biggs went 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 36.2 innings, allowing 29 hits and one home run.
Already boasting a significant arsenal, Biggs’ four-seamer can touch 95-96 MPH, though it sits primarily in the 90-91 range right now. He complements that offering with a sinking two-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s, along with a mid-70s changeup and a low-70s power curveball that has the potential to be a big pitch for him going forward.
Having a strong commitment to the University of Louisville, though, Biggs nearly chose college over the Blue Jays. In fact, prior to summer school classes at Louisville in July, Biggs publicly confirmed that he was honoring his college commitment and turning down professional baseball.
“I couldn’t tell you enough good things about the Blue Jays organization,” Biggs told the BG Daily News at the time. “We had good talks, good negotiations, all the way from the draft up until this point. I told them before the draft I would make my decision before today just because I’m going to summer school at U of L. We couldn’t get a deal done.”
All of that seemed to change, though, when he changed his mind in the middle of August. The Blue Jays reportedly held off contacting Biggs for just over a week after he announced his Louisville commitment, but re-engaged the right-hander with a lucrative counter-offer shortly after. While the amount is unknown, it was rumored to be a very lucrative offer and, in the end, it was too much for Biggs to pass up and the Jays were ultimately able to pry their man away from Louisville.
“I went to summer school up there and really liked it, but this is something I always wanted to do and it’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Biggs told the BG Daily News shortly after signing.
Having had to focus on being both a pitcher and offensive-minded position player in high school, it will be interesting to see how Biggs continues his development as a full-time pitching prospect now that he’s part of the Blue Jays organization.
He’s shown glimpses of solid fastball command and should be able to increase his velocity, but he’ll really need to work on his off-speed pitches in the years to come. His changeup is considered his out pitch, primarily because he’s more comfortable with it and has used it more often. He’ll need to work on throwing both his changeup and curveball for strikes, so opposing hitters can’t just sit on his fastball.
The significant velocity gap between his fastball and off-speed pitches — almost 20 MPH — is certainly intriguing, so look for him to continue working on his mechanics and repeating his delivery to become more deceptive on the mound.
Expected 2012 team: Bluefield Blue Jays (Rookie)
Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: No. 4 starter
Biggs is a big, young right-hander with a lot of upside. He had an injury that slowed him down at the beginning of the high school season, which explained the Blue Jays’ late interest in him prior to the draft.
He’ll look to control some wildness that he displayed at times in high school, but his strong pitcher’s frame and raw tools give him the chance to shoot up this list next year.