On Wednesday, the Braves placed reliever Jose Ramirez on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and called up reliever Jesse Biddle from Triple-A Gwinnett.
Lots of minor leaguers get to the call to the majors in any given year, but Biddle’s promotion is even better because of everything he has endured in his career that has served as a roadblock. The 26-year-old was selected by the Phillies 27th overall in the 2010 draft. Biddle was one of baseball’s top prospects in the 2012-14 seasons, but as he reached the upper levels of the minors, he ran into some really tough luck.
In April 2013, Biddle came down with whooping cough. In an interview with Kelsie Heneghan for MiLB.com in 2014, Biddle said, “It became very difficult when every pitch, I felt like I was going to cough up my lung.”
In May 2014, Biddle was caught in a hailstorm. After hail shattered both windshields in his car, Biddle escaped to seek shelter elsewhere, but was struck in the back of the head by a hailstone and suffered a concussion. Via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover, Biddle said, “After that, I didn’t really feel right and I was very confused. I had a concussion when I was younger, but I didn’t really remember what it felt like.” 2014 was the lefty’s worst season as a professional up to that point. In March 2015, then-Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. suggested that Biddle’s concussion wasn’t a big deal and that he took time off for other reasons, saying, “That wasn’t the reason we gave him the break.”
After the 2015 season during which he posted a 4.95 ERA in 24 starts between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Biddle underwent Tommy John surgery. The Phillies designated him for assignment in January 2016 and the Pirates decided to acquire him shortly thereafter. The Pirates DFA’d him in March and then traded him to the Braves. Biddle debuted with Double-A Mississippi in April 2017, but switched into a relief role. From April 7 to July 11, he posted a 2.90 ERA, but he went back on the disabled list and didn’t pitch the rest of the season.
Biddle only pitched 3 1/3 innings in spring training this year but he held the opposition scoreless on two hits with no walks and no strikeouts. To start the 2018 minor league season, he’s yielded zero runs on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, which helped him finally earn his call-up to the majors.
This is why Biddle’s promotion today is such a cool moment. He may be one of the most unlucky players in professional baseball but he may also be on a major league mound facing his former team tonight.