Cavan Biggio's swing isn't pretty. His stance is awkward, his body wiggling back and forth as his hands waggle the bat violently above his head. His father, Craig, a 20-year major leaguer, hardly moved at all once he stepped into the batter's box. Cavan is nearly the opposite, shaking his entire body along with his bat as he awaits each pitch.
Even though they don't appear similar, it's clear Cavan has learned from one of the best. His father, who is up for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this season, amassed 3,060 hits during his career with the Houston Astros. He was named to seven All-Star teams, won four Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger awards and is currently fifth on the MLB’s career doubles list.
Now, Craig is coaching the St. Thomas Catholic (Houston) baseball team, a position he took in 2009. And in the process, he’s gotten to coach his sons. Conor, who graduated in 2011, is now playing at Notre Dame. And then there’s Cavan, a rising senior who will play at this summer's Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., for the Texas Rangers. (Craig also has a daughter, Quinn, who is 12.)
Cavan’s impressive foray into the sport can be chalked up to more than just good genes. He and his brother grew up in major league clubhouses, watching players such as Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman go through their daily routines.
“I always feel like I know more about the game because of that,” said Cavan, who is rated No. 28 in the ESPN 60. “I’ve been around all those kinds of players all my life, getting to know them as people.”
Of course, it’s not always easy playing with the Biggio name, and Cavan dealt with that quite a bit growing up. Everyone wanted to talk to the next Biggio, and the comparisons were always there, especially when he played second base -– his father’s position.
Plus, the rigors of the majors make for some tough scheduling conflicts during spring and summer baseball leagues, and Craig didn’t always get to go to his son’s games.
“He wasn’t around much to watch me play,” Cavan said. “But what he did do was take me around to different clubhouses to meet players, and I got to learn from all kinds of different perspectives.”
Craig saw his sons interact in the clubhouse on an almost-daily basis, but he didn’t realize how much of the game Cavan was picking up until Craig started coaching his son.
“We’d travel and do our thing, and I wasn’t sure he was processing a lot of information,” Craig said. “He was very quiet. But then as you coach and you’re around him, you can tell immediately that he didn’t miss a beat. He picked up everything and he listened to everything. As a dad, that’s very rewarding.”
Cavan doesn’t get compared to his dad as much anymore. For one thing, he no longer plays second -– he usually plays at third and occasionally spends time in the outfield or at first base.
But the swing is what truly sets him apart. Cavan can hit for average, like his father was so accustomed to doing. But he also hits for power, leading his dad to make another “Killer B” comparison.
“I’m not a big comparison guy,” Craig said. “I like for kids to be themselves. But the comparison with Baggie (Jeff Bagwell) and him is there. Jeff would walk a lot and then he would hit. The similarity is that [Cavan] will take a walk, but if you pitch to him, he’ll hit. For a young hitter, he’s very mature.”
That maturity helped Cavan bat .364 as a freshman, driving in 20 runs and cracking five home runs as St. Thomas Catholic won a TAPPS Class 5A state title. He upped the ante in 2011, batting .402 with 48 RBIs and seven round-trippers as the Eagles repeated as state champs.
And this past season, Biggio continued to get better. The power numbers were down -– he hit only two home runs -– but he batted .420 with 26 RBIs in nearly 50 fewer plate appearances. The Eagles fell just short of a third straight state title, but that’s only fuel for Cavan as he prepares for his senior season.
“The new (BBCOR) bats are a lot different to get used to, but overall, I’m just trying to get stronger and get us back to another state championship game,” Cavan said.
It will be a big year for the budding star, starting with the Area Code Games and continuing through the MLB draft next June. Cavan watched this year’s draft with intrigue, as several players he knew and had played with or against were either drafted or passed by.
“I realize it’s not easy to get drafted,” he said. “I know some kids who are really good who didn’t get drafted or thought they would get drafted higher. That’s tough on players.”
Fortunately, that’s another place where he can lean on his father for support. Craig was drafted in the first round in 1987, and although the process has changed, he knows the way to get drafted is more or less the same.
“It’s really just going out and playing and having fun,” he said. “You do the responsibilities you need to do, and you see what happens when the draft comes around. You can’t put any pressure on yourself that this is something that has to be done. If it doesn’t work out, you go to college.”
Cavan, who has committed to Virginia, also has a football career to look forward to in the meantime. A wide receiver at St. Thomas Catholic, his team advanced to the state semifinals last fall, and his impressive season had him at least entertaining the idea of playing on the gridiron at the next level.
“It’s crossed my mind,” he said. “I don’t think I have a future there past college, though. It’s really not worth it. Baseball is my future.”
In that, he and his dad have plenty in common.
Texas Rangers tryout recap
The Texas Rangers held two tryouts over the last 14 days in the Lone Star State, one in Weatherford and the other in Houston. Always one of the best areas in the nation for prep baseball talent, Texas impressed again.
This year, the baseball bloodlines ran heavy, as Craig Biggio, Torii Hunter, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte all had sons in attendance.
Currently No. 28 in the ESPN 60, Cavan Biggio has been on the radar for quite some time. He is a solid contact hitter, runs very well and possesses a high baseball IQ. He is currently a commit to the University of Virginia.
As expected, Sheldon Neuse was his normal self and impressed as a two-way player. The two-time Area Code player flashed a 91-92 mph fastball on the mound and he moves well and shows a strong arm in the infield.
Big-time football stars Kohl Stewart and Cody Thomas also made an impression. A big, physical presence on the mound, Thomas stands in at 6-foot-5, 220-pounds and has all the tools to play in the outfield or under center on the football field. He is currently committed to Oklahoma for football. Stewart, on the other hand, has a more athletic build at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and plays shortstop as well as RHP. He looks to be a better bet sticking on the mound with this low 90s fastball.
The 2012 Texas Rangers Area Code team can be found here.
Chicago White Sox recap
The Chicago White Sox Area Code regional workouts were held in Chicago where over 170 top high school baseball prospects from the mid-west proved themselves. Day one focused primarily on pitchers and catchers. The second day is where the position players shined.
RHP - Matt Frawley – 6-1, 180; Carol Stream, Ill. - Glenbard North; 2013:
If you ask Matt Frawley about his season at Glenbard North he'll tell you there were some struggles. "We didn't have the kind of team chemistry you'd like to see and I think that it reflected on our record this past year.” Monday indicated Frawley meant business. Everything worked when he took the mound at Elgin College. His velocity was up, showed a changeup and his slider had movement and good location.
RHP - Jacob Sparger – 6-5, 175; Eau Claire, Wisc. - Eau Claire Memorial; 2013:
Jacob Sparger, who looked good and felt good Monday during his performance on the mound. "It was a blast to get out there and throw in front of all the scouts. I think I cut a few loose so hopefully that bodes well for me." Sparger brought a heavy fastball, a slider which he said he made some adjustments on, and a changeup. High School season went well for Sparger, he was 7-2 with a 1.08 era. He committed to Louisville, which he's very excited about.
RHP - Keith Lehmann – 5-11, 175; Western Springs, Ill. - Lyons Township: 2013:
Lehmann brought a four seam and a two seam fastball, a nice changeup and knuckle curve which dances as much as Lehmann did on the mound. He's got a hop in his motion, which lead scout Dan Durst eagerly pointed out. Lehmann is comfortable in his motion and likes to get ahead. He can throw all pitches for strikes. He looks to put batters in that 0-1 count so he can keep them off balance and mix it up with his knuckle curve. He was 10-2 last with an impressive low era. of 0.86. Lehmann said.
C - Chuckie Robinson – 6-2, 230; Danville, Ill. Danville; 2013:
There were only two moments of complete silence at Triton College during day two of workouts. The first moment came during Chuckie Robinson's throw downs to second base. The second moment came during Robinson's BP session. Robinson put on a hitting display reminiscent of Courtney Hawkins last year during the same regional. There are only two balls on the top of the field house adjacent to the power alley in left center field beyond the fence at Triton College, one from Hawkins last year and now one from Robinson.
P/1B - AJ Puk 6-5, 200; Cedar Rapids, Iowa Washington; 2013:
Still in season and still recovering from a strained elbow , Puk missed day one of the White Sox Area Code regional workouts which was reserved primarily for pitchers, but had his opportunity to throw early on day two at Triton College. The U. of Florida commit has impressive size, Puk is extremely easy to point out. He came out throwing hard fast balls (two seam and four seam), curve ball and change.
-- Carl Stoeber