Pirates acquire lefty Biddle from Phillies

Pirates acquire lefty Biddle from Phillies

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates added a long-term reclamation project on Wednesday, acquiring former top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle from the Phillies. The left-hander will spend this year recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the Pirates hope to see him eventually reach his Major League potential in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates sent righty Yoervis Medina, a waiver claim who was recently outrighted, to the Phillies in exchange for Biddle. To make room for Biddle on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated right-hander A.J. Schugel, another recent waiver claim, for assignment.

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Biddle, 24, was designated for assignment on Friday when the Phillies claimed former Pirates lefty Bobby LaFromboise off waivers from the Angels. Biddle was the Phillies' No. 21 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and was considered one of baseball's top 100 prospects each year from 2012-14.

"We feel there is the upside of a quality starting pitcher with Biddle," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "We were willing to tackle the challenge of helping him get healthy and reach the ceiling that many in the industry believed he had when he was identified as one of the best pitching prospects in the industry."

The Phillies selected Biddle, a Philadelphia native, with the 27th overall pick in the 2010 Draft, but he has yet to live up to those high expectations. He is 40-45 with a 3.81 ERA over six seasons in the Minor Leagues.

However, Biddle fits the Pirates' profile in several ways. He's a former top pick and highly regarded prospect. He has consistently posted high strikeout totals (8.8 per nine innings in the Minors) but struggled with his control, walking 4.4 batters per nine.

Injuries have slowed Biddle's ascent to the Majors. He was hit in the head during a hailstorm and suffered a concussion in 2014, when he was pitching for Double-A Reading. He finished last season on the disabled list for Triple-A Lehigh Valley before undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 14.

The Pirates' track record with pitchers who have struggled or battled injuries speaks for itself. Pitching coach Ray Searage has helped A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez and J.A. Happ, among others, get their careers back on track. The Pirates will look to do the same for Biddle when he returns to full health.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.