Former Eagle state champion Cavan Biggio ‘13 took the next step in pursuing his dream of playing major league baseball while furthering cement the family’s legacy which already extends to the Hall of Fame.
After three standout seasons at Notre Dame Biggio was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft … following in the illustrious path of his father and former Eagle championship coach … Houston Astro icon Craig Biggio whose HOF induction was roughly just one calendar year before his son’s draft call.
Cavan’s draft announcement on MLB.com was delivered by his older brother Conor ‘11 who was serving an internship in the MLB commissioner’s office. He was chosen by the Astros in the 34th round in 2015 after his own productive four-year career at Notre Dame.
“I’ve been personally involved with Cavan since he was in the sixth grade with select baseball,” athletic director Mike Netzel said. “I’ve know for a long time he’s had the ‘it’ factor. Saw how he handled the extra scrutiny being brought up to the varsity as a freshman with your father as the head coach and the forever face of the Astros franchise. First at bat at Oak Ridge he slams a home run. Will never forget it.
“Cavan has always had the ice water in his veins … always very comfortable in the setting. That’s why he excelled here … felt comfortable with Team USA … felt comfortable with the final decision to attend Notre Dame and excelled there. Because of his makeup I’ve always told Craig that Cavan will be one of the fastest rising to the big leagues out of his draft class and I still believe that.”
Cavan became the fourth Eagle drafted from 2011 state championship team coached by Craig on a staff that included Netzel and current Eagle state championship coach Ryan Lousteau.
Shortstop Patrick Leonard ‘11 was selected in the fifth round in 2011 by the Kansas City Royals who also selected left-handed pitcher Austin Fairchild ‘12 in the 16th round in 2012.
But the immediate impression Cavan made on Lousteau was before Biggio arrived on the STH campus.
“I was coaching Conor on a 16U team during the summer in College Station,” Lousteau said. “That weekend Craig asked if Cavan could play with the older guys. He was headed into his freshman year here at St. Thomas. I put him in as the designated hitter and he’s facing a redshirt freshman at Texas A&M … throwing 91-92 (miles per hour). I’m coaching first base and first pitch Cavan rockets a line drive over my head. I knew right then this kid would be pretty good.”
The left-hand swinging Biggio was only the second second baseman drafted from the 2016 pool after hitting .311 for the Irish while slugging .454 with a .473 on-base percentage in the ultra competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. He knocked in 28 runs and led the team in hits (61), total bases, walks (54), stolen bases (14), runs scored (43) and tied for the team lead in doubles (12).
In three Notre Dame seasons Biggio totaled 70 RBI, 164 hits including 56 for extra-bases, 125 walks, an impressive .406 on-base percentage, 33 stolen bases and 117 runs while starting 166 of a possible 167 games and collecting the 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove at second base.
Biggio earned Cape Cod League All-Star recognition in 2015.
While attending St. Thomas Biggio was part of the USA Baseball 18U National Team that won the International Baseball Federation Junior AAA World Championship in Seoul, South Korea.
“The most impressive characteristic when I first met both Conor and Cavan … and still applies very much today … you would never have known who their father was,” Lousteau said. “They just wanted to be a contributing player on the team. Always went about their business not expecting anything should be given to them. If anything, I think they both worked harder because of their last name. Everything they’ve achieved they’ve earned. I couldn’t be more excited for Cavan as he makes his next move. He’s been successful at every level and he’ll probably have 10-15 years in the big leagues.”
Cavan has always carried the surname with bursting pride without shouldering the weight of unreasonable expectations and unruly reactions.
He owns a supreme but quiet confidence that he will realize his baseball dreams without losing perspective and enthusiasm for the game that has brought his family athletic fame and financial security … knowing that the game is truly no more than just that.
Such a mindset proved invaluable as Cavan played out his final season with Notre Dame in the swirl of intense scouting scrutiny leading into the draft.
“If you burden yourself … it will eat you up,” Cavan says. “It sounds cliched … but my approach has always been to take it one game at a time … enjoy the process. That was the focus. The opportunity to play at the next level was going to take care of itself.”
But the two-time state champion at St. Thomas was astute to understand what was at stake through each and every stance and swing in the batter’s box … every infield grounder at second base … every turn around the bases … every double play turned or not.
His Hall of Fame father offered the prudent advice which was also the most simple.
“Just go out there and have fun,” Craig suggested. “Be a great teammate. Stay dedicated to your academics. And just see what happens.
“(Cavan) had scouts around him at St. Thomas. Same for three years in one of the toughest conferences in America. The game is hard enough without making it more difficult on yourself. He understands all that.”
Cavan has grown accustomed to performing through the years with Biggio branded on his back making him a visible target for the inevitable comparisons to the seven-time All-Star who fronted a star-crossed and success-starved franchise for 20 years … leading a charge to its one and only World Series … one of only 29 big leaguers to rack 3,000 hits … the only one to add 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs.
But Cavan along with his former Eagle and Notre Dame teammate Conor were never pressed into a like father, like son, be-like-ME pressure cooker.
“They both are completely comfortable in their own skin,” Craig says. “Cavan and I are totally different players at the same position. He’s trying to become the best player he can become. The key is fulfilling your own expectations. What gets said, what gets written, the subjective conclusions which are made are totally out of his control. What he does control are the three hour inside the game … and what’s necessary to make the most of it.”
Craig and wife Patty readily agree that they’re “just excited to be parents” as Cavan lives out the current phase of his baseball journey. But dad can quickly detach and apply his trained eye for a fair and balanced evaluation and projection.
“I think he’s gotten better every day, every season,” Craig says. “He had the opportunity to perform in the Cape Cod League two summers in a row … made the All-Star team (in 2015) … around that kind of talent … facing that kind of measure … it prepares you for what’s to come.”
Cavan never needed extra motivation to scale the heights he has hoped for since taking batting practice as a kid among the Killer B’s against the likes of Darryl Kile and Roger Clemens.
After leaving St. Thomas in 2013 Cavan was ranked by Baseball America among the 70 best prospects in that year’s draft. He was selected in the 29th round by the Philadelphia Phillies after falling on many team’s draft boards because of his commitment to Notre Dame and the high-dollar asking price if he was to forego that opportunity.
The Irish struggled during Cavan’s freshman year while making the transition to the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference before rebounding to tie for third in the ACC in 2014 and advancing to their first NCAA Regional since 2006.
And Cavan was forced to adjust to his own less his own steady ascension periodically knocked aside.
“The biggest thing I gained going into this season was knowing how to handle some failure,” Cavan says. “Growing up playing … including my years at St. Thomas … it was all pretty positive. Individually and team success … winning championships. I took some really big expectations into college. I’ve had to be honest about my own strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes that means affecting the game in different ways than the obvious. It’s all about advancing as a player.”
Without hesitation Craig says that Cavan “reminds me so much of Baggy (long-time Astro teammates and record-setter Jeff Bagwell). If you get pitches to hit … you hit. If you walk … you walk. When the at bat is over … go to the dugout and prepare for next one. He really excels defensively … won a Gold Glove last year … speaks to his ethic in improving. Very professional for a guy 20 years old.”
That discipline has served Cavan well as he’s aimed to maximize the total Notre Dame experience and not strictly lay groundwork for professional baseball.
Originally Cavan committed to the University of Virginia before the lure of extending his career with Conor proved decisive in leading him to the Irish.
The political science major has also discovered a growth beyond the diamond and clubhouse which tells him the correct college choice was made.
“I was able to mature as a person in ways I never could have expected and that’s a credit to Notre Dame … in many ways an extension of St. Thomas,” Cavan says. “You have to build a self-reliance being away from home in a completely different culture than the one growing up in Houston. The academic challenges were stiff. There are no shortcuts. You develop some inner strength accomplishing a wide variety of goals. That confidence then translates to baseball. But more than anything else those three years were about shaping who you are as an individual.”
Patty admires that Cavan “always understood the great demands of being a student-athlete at Notre Dame. You have to perform in the classroom first … something he learned at St. Thomas.. He’s really appreciated his academics … treasures the history of what it means to be on that campus. Without a doubt it’s been a great fit.”
And now Quinn Biggio is set to follow the lead of her older brothers and make for a Biggio-Notre Dame triple play with an opportunity to play softball after a stellar two-sport athletic career at St. Agnes Academy.
In all, the Biggio Band relished a second straight scintillating summer of celebration … following in the wake of Craig’s Hall of Fame induction which delivered authentic applause and support from fans, his peers and predecessors, his game … and memories Cavan will embrace for a lifetime.
“What will stay with me the most was seeing my father being recognized for the player that he was and the person that he continues to be,” Cavan says. “He spent his entire career with an organization that wasn’t often in the spotlight. Maybe he didn’t get many of the accolades he deserved. But now he’s in the most select group who have ever played the game. I’m thankful for that. And also for my mom. So many summers and springs she was was at home taking care of us all … homework, practices, games … the up and downs of life … … plus all the little things. Just a great tribute for everyone in our family.”
With a personal encore just now beginning.
Eagle Fight Never Dies!