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Yankees Prospect Profile: Dante Bichette Jr.

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On the verge of destruction, DBJ has revived his prospect existence.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Background

Dante Bichette Jr. is the son of former major leaguer Dante Bichette, and the Yankees selected him as the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft. I think there were a decent amount of people who thought he was an over-draft, but many, including the Yankees, believed that his raw power and decent peripheral tools justified the placement. In his first professional year, he tore up Rookie ball. He only played 52 games, but he hit an enormous .342/.446/.505 (172 wRC+).

Of course, that wasn't full season ball, and he hit a wall almost immediately. And as everyone knows, that wall just stood there as an obstacle for the next two years. In nearly 1000 PA, Bichette hit ~83 wRC+ with just 14 home runs at Low-A Charleston. The power never showed itself, and his defense is not at all good enough to justify continuing to play him at third base. After the 2013 season, his prospect life was nearly dead.

2014 Results

Tampa (A+): 109 G, .271/.352/.410 (120 wRC+), 9 HR, 27 2B, 0.7 WARP

Trenton (AA): 18 G, .224/.297/.313 (73 wRC+), 1 HR, 3 2B, 0.2 WARP

But, this past season, he turned it around. Bichette apparently worked on his approach at the plate with his father, and he worked to better his approach with two strikes. The result was cutting down on his strikeout rate by about 6%, increasing his walk rate by about 2%, and boosting his wRC+ by nearly 40 points.

The one thing to note is that his power still has not shown up to the party, but I'm much less worried about that considering he hit well overall. And while his .139 ISO is not great, at least his BABIP of .325 at least shows a modicum of improvement in terms of making hard contact. He did struggle a bit at Double-A Trenton, but it was 74 PA, so I wouldn't read too much into it.

2015 Outlook

After his revival in 2014, I would imagine that Bichette begins his season with Double-A Trenton, with a possible promotion to Triple-A depending on how well he performs. He's still a 22 year-old, remember, so there's no reason to rush him at all. The key to this season is adjusting to a much higher talent level, and also tapping into his raw power. Scouts still believe decent tools are there, but he'll certainly need a bit more refinement to bring them out. Bichette did an excellent job of preventing a slow fade into obscurity, and now he has a golden opportunity to ascend to the big league level. If 2014 was important, 2015 is arguably more so.