Royals Deal Hazleton Area Grad Biasi To Brewers
Sal Biasi began Tuesday in Lexington, Kentucky, as a relief pitcher for the Legends, the Kansas City Royals’ A-ball team in the South Atlantic League.
Before his day was over, the former Hazleton Area High School and Penn State University standout was headed to Appleton, Wisconsin, after the Royals traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers for Triple-A right-hander Jon Perrin, a 27th-round pick of the Brewers in 2015.
“Excited ... anxious,’’ Biasi texted before joining the Brewers’ Class A affiliate in Appleton — the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Biasi, 22, was an 11th-round draft pick of the Royals in 2017. He posted earned run averages of 2.44 and 2.31 at Burlington (N.C.) and the Royals’ Rookie League team in Arizona as both a starter and reliever in his first two professional stops last year.
Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen this season, he’s averaged 9.70 strikeouts per nine innings across 42-plus innings despite logging a 5.08 ERA. Overall, he’s fanned 46 batters and walked just 17 while facing 190 batters in a total of 27 appearances. He has a 3-3 record with three saves.
He’s leaving an organization that has changed dramatically since the big league Royals appeared in consecutive World Series in 2014 and 2015, winning it all in 2015.
Since then, however, Kansas City’s big club has nosedived to 34-78 this season, 28½ games behind the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division entering play Tuesday.
The Brewers, meanwhile, have been one of the majors’ best teams all year. They started Tuesday 65-50, just 1½ games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and ahead by two games in the NL wild card standings.
The Brewers also have earned a solid reputation for developing young players, according to Cubs manager and Hazleton native Joe Maddon during a visit here in June.
“That’s for sure,’’ Biasi agreed in his text after his trade was announced.
He can only hope the Brewers’ magic will help him climb the professional ladder.
After earning All-Big Ten honors at Penn State and being drafted by the Royals last June, Biasi was named the Royals’ Rookie Pitcher of the Year.
In his first few months as a professional ballplayer, Biasi went 4-2 with a 2.41 earned run average, 54 strikeouts and 23 walks as a pitcher with the Royals’ Rookie League teams in Arizona and Burlington.
“Going out there, I really didn’t throw a change-up in college and I threw tons of change-ups this summer as the developmental part of pro ball,’’ Biasi said in an interview. “I learned ... how to pitch to guys and ... about the game in general more and more.’’
Used primarily as a starter, Biasi allowed only 38 hits and 15 earned runs over his first 56 professional innings. Opponents batted just .190 against him.
To protect his valuable right arm, Biasi was limited to five innings or 80 pitches per start. He went his full five innings in all but one appearance and that was because he had his longest mound stint of the summer in the previous game.
“There’s a lot more thinking in the pro game ... because there’s a lot more guys in the lineup who can hurt you,’’ Biasi said last year. “They have tons of tools, tons of speed and tons of power — they are guys a scout thinks could be a major leaguer one day.’’
Biasi harbors those exact same thoughts about himself.
Even if it’s with a new team.
“Being able to pitch in on guys and finish them away with breaking stuff or throwing a changeup in a hitter’s count ... was something I had to learn from a mental standpoint ... just keeping the hitter uncomfortable,’’ Biasi said.
Now, after just getting to start comfortable in the Royals’ organization, Biasi will have to prove himself to another new set of eyes.
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