Scouting Yanks Prospect #18:Dante Bichette Jr

Bichette changed his leg kick last season

The Yankees selected third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Orangewood Christian High School in Florida. He had a tremendous debut season that year but followed it up with a season of adjustments last year in his first taste of the long-season leagues in Charleston.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Dante Bichette Jr.
Position: Third Base
DOB: September 26, 1992
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"It was my first full season and I definitely had a lot of things that I needed to work on during that time," he admitted. "I felt like towards the end that I figured it out and it ended up being a successful year."

He hit just .248 with three home runs in 122 games for the RiverDogs last season, a season in which he admits wound up being an experimental year of sorts.

"I definitely would agree with that but I also feel that's a necessity to go through," he said. "I feel like everybody's first season is going to feel the longest.

"It's going to be long just because of the mental beating that you're going to get playing so much, but I think that it was definitely needed to go through all of that.

"I had a lot of different advice being thrown at me from a whole bunch of different people, whether they were in the game or out of the game. I made the mistake of listening to every single one of them.

"I've pretty much been a people pleaser always so I like to make people happy by listening to their advice but sometimes I have to know what works for me and things that don't. Once I figured that out and stuck with what I wanted to do it was a lot better."

He continuously made changes to his swing all season long before finally settling on one that he felt comfortable with and worked, and he wound up hitting .371 over his final ten games and kept his hot hitting up through Instructional League.

"All they told me was 'whatever you did at the end of the year, continue with that'. That was good to hear because that means they were happy with what they saw from me at the end of the season.

"I was happy with that also because I feel like they trust me to figure out some things on my own rather than having stuff thrown at me."

Perhaps pressing too much after being a first round pick the year before and the son of a former successful big league hitter, he did learn some things on his own, one of which was learning the let the game to come to him.

"If I would have known at the beginning of the year what I knew at the end of the year then that would have helped me out a ton," he said. It's a really long season and you just have to be professional about it because for good hitters the numbers are going to come and you can't try to force anything."

While his in-season numbers suggest otherwise, Bichette feels so much better about his game going forward and he is supremely confident he can once again become the impact player he had initially shown in his debut season.

"Right now [my confidence] couldn't be any higher. I'm totally prepared for this next season. I actually want to go get back out there.

"I've got a great opportunity ahead of me and I need to take advantage of them. I have a bunch of confidence right now, I'm totally confident about everything," he concluded.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2012 Charleston .248 471 24 3 46 67 3 44 94 .322 .331
2011 Staten Island .143 7 0 1 1 1 0 1 2 .250 .571
2011 GCL Yankees .342 196 17 3 47 33 3 30 41 .446 .505


Batting and Power. Despite the lower batting average in 2012, Bichette has all of the tools to be a high average hitter; great natural patience, good strike zone discipline, and a willingness to use the whole field. Where he got into trouble was modifying his once rather high leg-kick. Now it's barely a foot-raised toe tap and he has eliminated a lot of movement from his prior swing, and that should help him with outside plate coverage. He has above average long-term power potential and it's not strictly to the pull-side either.

Base Running and Speed. Bichette Jr. is a below average runner overall but he has a bit more agility than most corner guys so he could chip in a few stolen bases along the way. However, built more like a fire hydrant, his long-term running potential is minimal.

Defense. He is a very solid defensive player for such a young guy. He shows solid lateral movement, good hand-eye coordination, and a strong arm. Just like with his future potential in the running game though, he will have to keep on top of his conditioning throughout the ensuing years because he has the type of frame that could easily fill out and get too big, and possibly affect his agility at some point.

Projection. Bichette has the kind of great balance between natural hitting ability, potential for good power down the road, and the kind of great makeup and intangibles to not only be a starting big league third baseman someday but a team leader as well. In fact the tools themselves are more average to above average but it's the makeup that allows them to play at a level higher. In almost Derek Jeter-like fashion, he has a winning player mentality and lot of that stems from his upbringing. Throw out his learning curve year of 2012 -- he's much more like the player he was in 2011 production-wise. He might have some more short-term pitfalls but the long-term future seems bright.

ETA. 2015. Bichette is kind of a 'tweener' for his short-term tract. With the way he finished the 2012 season and the way he played in Instructs, he could be ready for high-A Tampa right out of camp. Even if he begins the year back in Charleston for some more seasoning, however, he should see ample at-bats in the Florida State League sometime this season.

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