Dante Bichette Jr. Looks Destined for Greatness
Saturday May 19, 2012
Sam Evans: When the Yankees drafted Dante Bichette Jr. in the 1st round (compensation pick) of the 2011 draft, some people were surprised that Bichette Jr. got drafted so high. Several draft experts didn’t see Bichette Jr. as a player that would go in the first one hundred picks. However, the Yankees fell in love with his bat speed, and so far picking Bichette Jr. is looking like a smart choice. What kind of player will Bichette Jr. be if he reaches his ceiling? What position will he eventually end up playing? Keep reading to find out.
Dante Bichette Jr. comes from a strong baseball family. His dad, Dante Bichette, was a phenomenal hitter for the Colorado Rockies in the nineties. Bichette played in fourteen seasons, and averaged a .299 AVG and 26 homers per year. The four-time All-Star outfielder was drafted in the 17th round of the 1984 MLB amateur draft. Having a dad who played in the majors never solidifies where you’ll be drafted, but having baseball in your blood definitely helps.
In high school, Dante Bichette Jr. played shortstop for Orangewood Christian High School in Florida. He had committed to the University of Georgia, but after he was drafted in the compensation 1st round, he decided to go pro. When MLB Reports interviewed Mariana Bichette, Dante’s wife, she said if her son was picked with a team’s first or second pick, he was going pro. Looking back at the decision, it definitely seems like Bichette Jr. made the right choice. He hasn’t struggled too much in the lower levels of the minors, and he’s still only nineteen.
As a professional, the Yankees appear to have decided that they will invest smartly in Bichette’s future. They are going to be bringing up through their system slowly and allow for his development. Last year, in fifty-two games playing in Rookie Ball, Bichette Jr. hit .342 with three homers. He was named the Gulf Coast League MVP, thanks to his strong hitting performance. In 2012, Bichette Jr. has started the year in the South Atlantic League with the Charleston River Dogs. In just thirty-five games, he has hit .239/.342/.276. Obviously, the lack of power has been a little disappointing. Last year, Bichette Jr. had twenty-four extra base hits. This year, in fewer games and at a higher level of competition, he only has four.
The other thing that has stood out during Bichette’s first year in the SAL is the walks. He currently has nineteen walks and twenty-eight strikeouts. It’s not often a power-hitting teenager shows the ability to draw walks. The most impressive tool that Bichette possesses is his bat speed. Bat speed leads to line drives and homers, so I’m surprised Bichette Jr. hasn’t shown that much power in his first two professional seasons. But again he is young and has a great deal of time available to mature as a hitter.
Dante Bichette Jr. still has a couple of areas of his game that he will need to develop in order to reach the major league level. For example, some are worried that he might not be able to hit pitches on the outside half of the plate very well. Also, Bichette Jr. is a pull hitter, so it would be nice to see him hit the ball to the opposite field consistently. In terms of defense, the Yankees are still hoping Bichette Jr. can stick at third base. He certainly has the arm to play third, but the rest of the defensive package isn’t complete yet. Of course, if Bichette can continue to hit like he has in the past, it might be enough for him to stay at third base in the future.
If Dante Bichette Jr. can reach his ceiling, he could be a .290+ hitter with power and above average defense at third base. That would make him one of the top third baseman in all of major league baseball. As talented as the current Yankees’ roster is right now, Yankees’ fans have to get excited with such talented players on the way. Remember the name Dante Bichette Jr. – he will be calling on the big apple before you know it.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter (@RJA206)***
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