For the most part of the 2023 season, much news has been made about Cavan Biggio’s struggles, despite playing in his fifth year with the Toronto Blue Jays ballclub. For the season, he is hitting .160, with an OPS of .555, 12 runs scored, four home runs, six RBI, four walks and 30 strikeouts in 32 games played. His current batting average, OPS, and strikeout rate are all trending towards career lows, and the longer he keeps this up, the more likely his spot on the roster would eventually be in jeopardy.
If such a time does arrive, the Jays actually have a hidden gem waiting in Triple-A Buffalo, ready to pounce on the opportunity. That player is Rafael Lantigua. Lantigua was an international free agent signed by the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic back in August of 2016, about the same time in which Jays' former top prospect Gabriel Moreno was signed as well. Lantigua made his professional baseball debut playing in the Dominican Summer League with the DSL Blue Jays in 2017. He had quite the first impression, as in 59 games, he batted .284 with an OPS of .755, to go along with 36 runs scored, eight doubles, six triples, 23 RBI, 11 stolen bases, and a BB/K ratio about 1:1.
From there, Lantigua progressed gradually in his development and moved up one minor league level in the Jays’ organization each year, displaying greater power and speed along the way. He established career highs in home runs with 11 and stolen bases with 26 in 2021, and career highs in RBI with 64 and runs scored with 73 in 2022, all while maintaining a solid batting average of greater than .270.
In 2023, Lantigua has gotten off to a strong start to the season with the Buffalo Bisons. In 40 games, he is hitting a career high .328 with a 1.016 OPS, along with 35 runs scored, 16 doubles, four home runs, 22 RBI, nine stolen bases, 37 walks and 25 strikeouts. He has been able to provide steady run production to go along with maintaining a high average with great plate discipline (more walks than strikeouts) at the same time. This type of hitting consistency and reliability is just what the current Blue Jays’ roster needs to help stabilize their underperforming lineup.
Lantigua is an infielder by trade, as he could play second base, third base, and shortstop, but has had his reps in the outfield as well this year with the Bisons, making him a utility-type player like Biggio. Although Lantigua is not currently on the Jays’ 40-man roster, recent callup Ernie Clement making it to the big league club despite not being initially on the 40-man roster means anything is possible if the Jays deem making the move is worth it. Especially if Biggio continues to struggle, along with Santiago Espinal, who has had a sub-par season himself too and is currently on the 10-day IL.
Luckily for Biggio, he has had a few strong games recently in the series against the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins. Nevertheless, he should definitely keep his head up, as Lantigua will be waiting desperately in the wings for his chance.