BP: Dante Bichette Jr. “might be turning the corner this spring”

2014 Season Preview: Defensive Wizards
MRI shows pinched nerve in Brendan Ryan's back
(Charleston River Dogs)
(Charleston River Dogs)

Two years ago, 3B Dante Bichette Jr. was one of the top prospects in the Yankees’ system. They selected him with the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft (the compensation pick for Javier Vazquez) and he hit .335/.440/.507 with 17 doubles and four homers in 54 games with the Rookie GCL Yankees after turning pro, a performance that earned him the league MVP award. The Yankees were widely panned for the pick but the early returns were great.

The last two seasons have not gone as well, however. Bichette, now 21, hit .248/.322/.331 with only three homers in 122 games for Low-A Charleston in 2012, then followed it up with a .214/.292/.331 batting line in 114 games for the River Dogs last year. Repeating a level and performing worse in the second year is as bad as it gets. Bichette dropped off prospect lists this spring and understandable so.

In a free article at Baseball Prospectus — all of their content is free today, by the way — the staff compiled some miscellaneous scouting notes from the Spring Training backfields. Here’s the write-up on Bichette, from Steffan Segui:

Bichette looks like he might be turning the corner this spring. While still rotational, everything in his swing has been simplified, and his good natural power hasn’t been depleted. His swing is now rock, identify pitch, and roll. Short and quick, don’t ask questions, just hit the ball. Previously, he was doing too much: It used to be huge rock, never identify pitch, enormous Javier Baez-type leg lift, front shoulder bails, hands drop and then roll. This new approach should definitely help Bichette and might allow him to recapture the prospect status he once had, assuming his issues with off-speed stuff stemmed from his swing rather than his approach. At third, he isn’t very good, his hands lack softness and he really doesn’t have any fluidity. He might make strides there at some point, but if not the arm is good enough for right field.

The knock on Bichette was always his complicated setup and hitch-y swing. The Yankees actually did a good job of quieting him soon after the draft in 2011, but it didn’t stick and Bichette has been his old self these last two years. Those numbers aren’t an accident.

A simplified swing and a new approach could help Bichette regain some prospect luster, but I want to see some improvement before I believe it. Baseball Prospectus has been bullish on Bichette over the years and so far he has yet to reward their faith. Maybe this is the start of him turning his career around. I hope it is. I don’t think Bichette has earned the benefit of the doubt though. Let’s see the new swing and approach produce some results first.

There’s also a write-up on Aaron Judge in the BP article, though there isn’t any new information in there.

2014 Season Preview: Defensive Wizards
MRI shows pinched nerve in Brendan Ryan's back
  • Gonzo

    Is “might be turning the corner” for minor leaguers the equivalent of “best shape of his life” of his life for major leaguers. I don’t think so, but I’m checking on the consensus.

    • Farewell Mo


      It’s better news than if he was still stinking out the joint this spring but I’d need to see him have some success in low A and then carry it over at least to High A or even AA before I’m biting.

  • Betty Lizard

    My favorite unibrow! I still believe in him . . . .


  • cooolbreeez

    It’s really surprising that his hitting mechanics were so God awful as his old man Dante is suppossed to be a real student and teacher of hitting (Rox hitting coach).

    Here’s hoping he’s got things going in the right direction.

    • lightSABR

      Right. That scouting report was a bit odd to read, since I thought the story on him when he was drafted was that he had an advanced approach that would serve him well in the lower levels but not enough talent to carry him to the bigs.

      This seems to say that his approach was a mess, but that it’s fixed now and he might have the talent to succeed.

  • The Other Matt

    So I’m assuming he will start off the year at Low-A Charleston again, and Jagielo at High-A Tampa ?

  • Havok9120

    I won’t be holding my breath, but it’s nice that there’s some reason to hope.

  • Steve (different one)

    What would happen to the internet if all three of DBJ, Culver and Pineda all had good seasons??

    • Eskimo Bros database

      Have you ever seen that scene from scanners?

      Something close to that.

    • Havok9120

      Oh, God. I’m not sure RAB would survive it.

      • whozat

        Why, because everyone would be so happy?

        • JMK


    • BFDeal

      Fred Robbins has an aneurysm.

  • RetroRob

    Yeah, everything Mike wrote. Not believing ’till seeing.

  • willie w

    considering that he only 21 and not 28 there is still plenty of hope from me.

  • Preston

    I wasn’t that down on him after his poor 2012. His BA, and OBP were fine, if not good and all reports said he looked good at 3b, plus the lack of power wasn’t that concerning since that was his big “tool” when drafted so you thought it would come eventually. His 2013 can only be explained in one of two ways, an inability to be coached or a lack of work effort, probably both. Mike Newman said in a Fangraphs chat that Bichette looked disinterested in baseball when he watched him and the fact that he continued to have an overly complicated swing after the Yankees had already tried to simplify seems to signify he wouldn’t be coached. The fact that he came into spring with a revamped swing means he is both ready to accept some coaching and put in some work over the spring. If this keeps up it’s definitely promising. But he has a lot of ground to make up. I mean is he going to repeat at Charleston again?

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    Yeah, and Jorge Alfaro is going to be the best catcher in the game.

  • qwerty

    I’ll believe it when I see it, until then this guy is nothing more than the next Eric Duncan to me.