In 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays drafted a 21-year old from the University of Notre Dame in the fifth round and 162nd overall. Three years later the team would be calling him up to the major leagues and he would quickly become not just an impact player, but a very important piece to the success of the team going forward.
During his three years in the NCAA, Cavan Biggio took down several awards including a Rawlings Gold Glove at second base, Cape Code League All-Star, and a first team All-American. He played in every game over his three seasons and started all but one.
In a total of 167 games, he had a batting average of .272 and an on base percentage of .406 while slugging 56 extra base hits and stealing 33 bases. Many pre-draft rankings had him in the top 100 and D1Baseball.com had him as the third best second basemen in the draft, so when Toronto found him still sitting on the board at 162, they snapped him up and quickly signed him to a $300,000 signing bonus.
In Biggio’s first two years through the Blue Jays system he had good, but not spectacular seasons. He finished the 2017 playing the entire year in Dunedin (A+), while his batting average didn’t look great (.233), he did show a bit of power, hitting 11 home runs and also walked 74 times to raise his on base percentage to .342.
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2018 would be the season Biggio would break out and become a top prospect to watch for many Blue Jays fans. He played the whole season in New Hampshire (AA), which was a dominant team that included himself, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr among many others. The Fisher Cats would win the league championship that season and Biggio would win both the league’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. His awards came as he slugged 23 doubles, 26 home runs, 99 RBI and walked 100 times to go with 20 stolen bases. He would also show his versatility on the field as he would start more than 20 games at first base, second base and third base, as well as a handful of games in the outfield.
To start the season in 2019, Biggio would be assigned to Buffalo (AAA), however in just 43 games he would start the season with 15 extra-base hits, 34 walks and post a .312 average and .448 on base percentage before he was called up to Toronto. Biggio would play primarily at second base during his rookie season in Toronto, but again showed he could be moved around as he also started games at first base, as well as both corner outfield positions. At the plate Biggio would have an average of just .234, however continued to show discipline at the plate by walking 71 times in 100 games. Biggio also slugged 16 home runs (22 total between AAA and MLB) and went 14 for 14 in stolen bases. On September 17, Biggio also became just the third Blue Jays player to hit for the cycle.
His immediate success at the MLB level saw him finishing fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting and third in WAR amongst first year players. After his rookie season, many fans and analysts projected Biggio to be a mainstay in the Blue Jays roster for a long time.
He would build on his rookie season and got even better and more valuable to the team in 2020. Biggio played in all but one of the Blue Jays 60 games during the COVID season, and in the batting line-up he would hit either leadoff or second in almost every game, continuing to show he can play anywhere on the field. In the shortened season, Biggio would start games in five fielding positions as well as one game at designated hitter.
He finished the season with the second highest WAR on the team (behind Hyun Jin Ryu), led the team in doubles, stolen bases, and walks. His walks could have been much higher, as it appeared he was on the raw end of the deal on some called third strikes. He does need to learn to expand the zone with two strikes, which leads me to remember a great quote from Ichiro Suzuki that said he fouls off borderline pitches to force the pitcher into a mistake. I would like to see Biggio learn to take a similar approach.
So what do the Blue Jays have in Cavan Biggio? They have a player that was drafted 162nd overall in the 2016 and among all the players selected that year he currently sits fifth in total WAR. Biggio can play pretty well any position on defence, he has potential of a .400+ OBP, 20 home run potential, and have I mentioned he is 20 for 20 in career stolen bases of 159 games. His bat can fit in anywhere the Blue Jays are lacking, whether it be infield or outfield, and his production holds up.
Biggio is the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio and their careers started at similar ages. During Craig’s 25-year old season he played 134 games, had a slash line of .276/.342/.348 with 24 doubles, four home runs and 25 stolen bases. Cavan lost out on a full season due to COVID, but if you project it over 134 game season, 36 doubles, 18 home runs, 14 stolen bases with a slash line of .250/.375/.432. I am not saying the son will be as good as the father, but it will always will be fun to compare.
You don’t want to hype a young player too soon, but there are so many possibilities with Cavan Biggio that you can’t not get excited for what he can do for the Blue Jays.