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January 29, 2016

Ex-top pick Biddle DFA'd to make room for reliever LaFromboise

Matt Klentak continued his winter raid of the waiver wire on Friday and removed a former first-round pick from the 40-man roster in the process.

The Phillies claimed lefthanded reliever Bobby LaFromboise off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels, Klentak announced. To make room on the 40-man roster for LaFromboise the Phillies designated lefthander Jesse Biddle for assignment.

But it would seem unlikely that another team would claim Biddle and place him on their own 40-man roster: the 24-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-October and is not expected to pitch in 2016.

Biddle, a Philadelphia native and graduate of Germantown Friends High School, was the Phillies' first-round pick (27th overall) in 2010. He has struggled to advance as a prospect in the last two seasons.

In 2014, Biddle went 3-10 with a 5.05 ERA in 16 starts at Double-A Reading and took what former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. termed a midseason “mental break” after his early-season struggles. Last season, Biddle moved up from Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in early July, but didn’t pitch too effectively at either stop, going a combined 9-6 with a 4.95 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in 24 starts. He was shut down in late August and the team announced that he would undergo surgery in October.

LaFromboise, meanwhile, is a 29-year-old California native who has pitched in 27 big league games (all relief appearances) with the Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates in the last three seasons.

He had a 1.12 ERA in 11 games with Pittsburgh last season, with eight strikeouts and one walk in eight innings LaFromboise went 1-2 with a 2.98 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average in 54 games at Triple-A Indianapolis last season.

LaFromboise will compete for a job in what would appear to be a wide-open bullpen race this spring. Among the lefthanders competing for jobs are LaFromboise, Elvis Araujo, Daniel Stumpf and non-roster veteran James Russell. Mario Hollands, who had Tommy John surgery in April, could join that mix shortly after the regular season begins.

Two other lefties are competing for jobs in the starting rotation: newcomer Brett Oberholtzer and Adam Morgan.

LaFromboise is the fourth player first-year GM Klentak has claimed off waivers this offseason, joining outfielder Peter Bourjos and pitchers Michael Mariot, A.J. Achter, and Dan Otero. Neither Achter or Otero ever threw a pitch for the Phillies: Achter was DFA'd (and claimed by the Angels) after the Phillies signed starter Charlie Morton in December and Otero was DFA'd after the Ken Giles trade and dealt to the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations on Dec. 18.