After opening the season in a hybrid role on the Beloit Snappers pitching staff, right-hander Boomer Biegalski has embraced a change to full-time starter that was brought on by injuries. The 2015 14th-rounder out of Florida State made a pair of starts and two relief appearances while in the tandem starting role, before the staff was shaken up by injuries to Dustin Driver and Jesus Zambrano.
The transition has been just what the doctor ordered for Biegalski, who in his last four starts has allowed just three earned runs on 14 hits in 21 2/3 innings. He’s also posted a remarkable 23:3 K:BB rate since moving to full-time starter.
“With injuries that have happened the last two or three weeks, we’ve changed it up a bit,” Biegalski said. “It was different coming out of the 'pen, because I’d only done it a handful of times before pro ball. But you’ve got to keep the thought process the same. A lot of our guys are getting ground ball outs and getting double plays when a runner gets on, which helps you get further along in a game.”
Not to say he didn’t enjoy the piggy-backing role that he opened the season in, but Biegalski has been happy to leave it in the rearview mirror.
“As a starter it’s kind of different, because you’re used to going out and trying to get as far into a game as you can,” he said. “When you’re throwing good and you get taken out, you get kind of frustrated because you have that itch to keep going. But I understand the process of it and we’re still in the learning stage of the game. Some guys are learning new pitches that are going to be added to their arsenal, so I know the thought process behind it.”
Biegalski is one of those on the Snappers’ staff currently tweaking his offering of pitches. The slender 6'2'' hurler has been happy with his four-seam fastball, change-up and curveball, but would like to become more consistent with his two-seamer and newly added cutter.
Oddly enough, Biegalski says he began experimenting with a cutter prior to A’s minor league pitching coordinator and renowned cut-fastball guru Gil Patterson joined up with the club for a road series earlier this month.
“I’ve been struggling with the two-seam a little bit,” Biegalski said. “Some days it’s moving and some days it’s not. A lot of it’s just going to come on getting a feel for it and then one day maybe it will click and I can throw it more often.
“I just started throwing the cutter a few weeks ago before Gil got here. I was having trouble throwing the two-seam, so I figured if I had trouble getting one to run arm-side I could get it to cut the other way. I feel like I’ve picked that up pretty quick. I threw a side [Tuesday] and it was looking a lot better.”
More than one month into his first full professional season, Biegalski says he feels much better than the pitcher that arrived in Arizona last summer after signing out of college. He made six appearances, including four starts, for the AZL A’s and allowed seven runs (four earned) on eight hits in 11.1 innings. He struck out 12 and issues a pair of walks.
While the numbers in the professional debut weren’t bad, Biegalski admits he didn’t have much left in the tank after a long college season.
“When I first got drafted, I was super tired from having a long season,” he said. “I didn’t get what I wanted out of the AZL, because I was tired. I didn’t feel like I had the same energy. My mechanics were also off coming into it from the break. Then I got into instructs and felt everything was starting to click. I kept progressing in spring training and now it’s starting to click really well.”
That development led to Biegalski earning a full-season assignment this spring, where he’s enjoyed a tremendous start to the season. His recent four-game run as a starter has dropped his season ERA to 2.08. He’s also posted a 40:9 K:BB rate in 39 innings, winning all four of his decisions thus far.
“The Midwest League in general has been full of pitcher’s parks, so that’s been one of the nice things about it,” he said. “You’ve got to be more careful with where you put your pitches, because they’re professional players now. They’re still at a learning level, too, so sometimes you get away with stuff you wouldn’t at the next level. It’s give and take."
If Biegalski keeps progressing at his current rate, he’ll earn another test at a higher level of minor league ball in the California League where pitcher’s parks are nearly non-existent.