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Yankees prospect profile: Dante Bichette Jr.

Former top third base prospect could finally be turning his career around

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Background

Dante Bichette Jr., the son of former major leaguer, was drafted by the Yankees as their first pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and right off the bat people questioned the pick. Bichette was an interesting talent, but because of his deficiencies in the field, he wasn't considered to be among even the best 100 prospects in the draft. It was the second straight year the Yankees made a questionable first pick after they previously took Cito Culver in the 2010 first round. Upon starting his professional career that summer, Bichette silenced everyone by hitting .342/.446/.505 with three home runs and 30 walks in 52 games at rookie ball. He looked legit; his defense was passable, his power was there, and his approach at the plate was effective. Unfortunately, his prospect status was never again as high as it was after that season and he hit .231/.307/.331 with 14 home runs (only 3 in 2012), 213 strikeouts, and almost 40 errors at third base over the next two seasons in Low-A Charleston. By the end of the 2013 season, it looked like his career wasn't long for this world.

2014 Results

Before the 2014 season, Bichette's father took time away from his big league coaching career to work with his son and hopefully save his baseball life. They revamped his swing and changed his mechanics and something must have clicked because just when everyone counted him out, that's when he started to get noticed again. He was moved up to High-A Tampa in order to make way for Miguel Andujar in Charleston, but Bichette managed to hit .271/.352/.410 with nine home runs while sharing third base duties with top prospect Eric Jagielo. An injury to Jagielo gave Bichette more playing time, but when the top prospect returned, they moved Dante up to Double-A to make space and he eventually leveled off over the handful of games left in the season. In the end, he didn't exactly change the course of his career, but he did make Yankee officials wonder if there's still some value left in him.

2015 Outook

It's probably too much to expect him to recoup his lost value at this point in his career, but if his return from the dead is legitimate, he could become an interesting prospect to watch over the next season or two. Unfortunately, even if the bat is there, he still needs to work on his defense before he ends up as a first baseman or designated hitter. If that happens, he'll be stuck behind Tyler Austin and Greg Bird on the depth chart and have no path to the majors. He'll start off as the regular third baseman in Double-A Trenton this season, but even if Eric Jagielo is held back in High-A, he'll need to continue to perform with a top prospect right behind him. As good as it was to see Bichette start to finally hit, it's asking a lot for him to continue turning his career around at the age of 22 in the upper minors. It could be fun to see where DBJ goes from here, but don't expect much to come out of him at this point, especially if the 2014 season turns out to be the fluke.