Biggio receives accolades, plays for national team

Senior Cavan Biggio plays in the at the Perfect Game All-American Classic held at Petco Park in San Diego, Calif.

by Aaron Reiss
Eagle Editorial Board

Senior Cavan Biggio’s summer can be defined simply: baseball-filled.

From picking a college to playing for the USA Baseball 18U Nationl Team, Biggio’s past three months centered around the sport with which his last name is synonymous.

The summer began for Biggio with a commitment to the University of Virginia, one of college baseball’s elite programs.

The Cavaliers, participants in two of the past four College World Series, count Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals among their former players.

Biggio initially narrowed down his list of schools to three: Stanford, Notre Dame and Virginia.

Academic prestige was the main factor in the decision.

“[At] St. Thomas, they’ve challenged us through academics and athletics,” Biggio said. “That’s one of the main reasons I picked a good academic school. I didn’t want to waste all the hard work I’ve put in.”

Prioritizing academics is a quality that Brian O’Connor, head baseball coach at the University of Virginia, looks for when recruiting prospective student-athletes.

“We’re looking for players that not only can play at the highest level of college baseball but also have the desire to get one of the best degrees in this country,” O’Connor said. “We’re looking for the combination.”

Biggio’s summer achievements did not end with his college commitment.

In mid-June he represented Texas in the Area Code Games, an event that brings together the best high school senior baseball players from around the country to represent their respective states.

Multiple players from Houston participated, including pitchers Kacy Clemens of Memorial High School and Kohl Stewart of St. Pius X High School.

Clemens was also named a 2012 Under Armour® All-American. Stewart, a Texas A & M commit for both baseball and football, is expected to be drafted high in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Biggio also played with Stewart in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

It was the second year in a row that two players represented TAPPS 3-5A, with Houston Christian High School’s Mitchell Traver and St. Thomas’ Austin Fairchild ,’12, playing in the event last year.

Athletic director Mike Netzel believes that the school being represented in such a high profile event two years in a row will attract prospective student-athletes to a program that has already enjoyed unmatched successs.

“You would hope that when you’ve got student-athletes looking at our school, especially if they’re interested in baseball, this is a pretty good place to be,” Netzel said. “You can be at a private school and get noticed.”

For Biggio, meeting and playing with other talented athletes is what will be most memorable.

“It’s really cool to meet kids that are going to be in the pros one day,” Biggio said. “When they’re older and they’re famous you can say that you played with that guy.”

Few memories will rival the one that Biggio is currently experiencing.

After a summer-long tryout process, Biggio was selected to play for the USA Baseball 18U Nationl Team.

He is currently in Seoul, South Korea, playing in the IBAF Junior AAA/18U World Championships, which lasts until Sept. 8.

Netzel said that Biggio earned the chance to represent the country with the hard work he put in to improve as a player.

“[Cavan] is going to get a chance to go overseas and represent [his] country and get a medal,” Netzel said. “That’s pretty special.”

The accolades and success come as no surprise to Netzel, who has seen Biggio blossom since coaching him throughout middle school.

“When I saw him as a seventh grader playing for me, I told people then that [he] was going to be a draft choice and that he had a gift,” Netzel said. “He just has ‘it’. It’s tough to describe; when you see it, though, you know it.”

However, Biggio is not concentrating on the possiblity of being drafted.

He said that unless he is picked in the early rounds of the draft — even earlier than 2011 graduate Patrick Leonard, who was taken in the fifth round by the Kansas City Royals in the 2011 MLB Draft — he plans to attend college.

For now, Biggio’s only concern is soaking up the experience of representing the United States and finishing his senior year of high school.

“Playing for your country is something you always dream of. You watch the Olympics, see all the emotions behind it and now you get to experience it,” Biggio said. “That’s going to be really special to me.”