Blue Jays Prospect Bo Bichette Is Noisily Bashing Baseballs

Bo Bichette is making mincemeat out of lower-level pitching, and not in subtle fashion. The 19-year-old shortstop has a swing designed to smash baseballs into smithereens, and that’s pretty much what he’s done since the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the second round of last year’s draft. In 283 professional plate appearances, former big-league slugger Dante Bichette’s rapidly rising son is slashing .396/.456/.656.

The damage he did in Rookie ball last year — which led to an 1.182 OPS over 22 games — is largely being replicated in Low-A Lansing. Slotted near the top of a loaded Lugnuts lineup, Bichette is hitting an electric .381/.458/.619, with 18 doubles and six home runs. He leads the Midwest League in all three slash-line categories, as well as in total bases.

Anecdotally speaking, he also tops the circuit in aggressive hacks. When Eric Longenhagen wrote up Bichette in his Blue Jays Top Prospect rankings, he cited “exceptional bat speed and above-average raw power,” but also an “exaggerated leg kick” and hands “noisier than a Dinosaur Jr. concert.” He added that “Toronto may actively be working to quiet things down.”

Somewhat surprisingly, that isn’t the case. With a presumed organizational mindset of “If ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the precocious youngster is being allowed to continue to do his own thing. I learned as much when I spoke to Bichette, and to Blue Jays farm director Gil Kim, in mid-May.

———

On His Aggressive Swing

Bichette: “I’m a really aggressive hitter. I take a big leg kick, and I use everything I have. I’m not the biggest guy out there — I’m 5-11, 190 — so I need all the power I can get. I use my upper body and my lower body. I have a little bit of an inward turn with my upper body, which I think people may see as weird, but everything I do is to generate as much power as I can.”

Kim: “He doesn’t have an imposing physique, but he generates a lot of leverage and explosive torque. He gets every ounce out of his swing. It’s aggressive, but the bat path is good, and he controls the barrel pretty well. He will get overaggressive at times, but a lot of hitters do.”

Bichette: “The Blue Jays have been pretty good at just letting me do my own thing. They’ve encouraged me to stay aggressive. They talked to me after I was drafted, but that was mostly to feel out my thought process on my swing. The further along I’ve gotten, in instructs and so far this season, they literally haven’t talked to me about my swing, only about my approach.”

On His Approach

Kim: “One of the big focuses we have here is on approach and mindset, with each hitter, Bo included. We haven’t asked him to specifically tone down any part of his swing. One of his greatest strengths is his aggressiveness. I think he, himself, has made some adjustments with two strikes. He’s aggressive, but he’s got the bat speed to handle being aggressive. It works to his advantage. We’re very content with his progress so far.”

Bichette: “I’ve been trying to nail my two-strike approach, and they’ve helped me with that. Without two strikes, they try to keep me aggressive. I take chances as a hitter. I look for pitches in certain counts, so the majority of the time, I hit the ball pretty hard when I hit it. I think I hit the ball harder than most people.”

Kim: “Bo is extremely intense. He competes and has a true passion for hitting. We’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing. He’s 19 years old and playing full-season ball, and he’s continuing to mature as a hitter.”

Bichette: People laugh when I say this, but there have been points this season where I haven’t felt good at the plate. When that’s happened, I’ve really just stuck with my two-strike approach and found a way to get hits. I haven’t struggled in terms of average, but I have in terms of driving the ball. There are times I’ve had to get by with singles.”

On His Power Profile

Bichette: “I’m just trying to hit the ball as hard as I can. If it goes high, and goes far, that’s good. If it’s a liner that’s 10 feet off the ground, that’s fine, too. All I care about is getting good wood on the baseball. At the same time, power is what pays in the big leagues. I mostly focus on getting my hits, getting my liners, but I also try to build off of that. I do want to hit home runs.”

Kim: “It’s pretty impressive raw power. It was a fun experience to watch Bo and Vladdy, Jr. [Vladimir Guerrero] go at it with Michigan State in the home-run derby last September at the Lansing Lugnuts’ Crosstown Showdown. It’s definitely above-average raw power.”

On His Defensive Profile

Kim: “He’s improved his speed and agility, and we’re seeing that with his range. And he’s got pretty good instincts. Our intention is for him to develop as a shortstop — 100%. He’s getting reps at second base, but again, we trust in the athlete, and we trust in the instincts. Right now, he’s a shortstop.”

Bichette: “Staying at short is definitely my goal. That’s what I work at, and it’s what I strive to be when I’m a big leaguer. But I do work at second base, and I play there once every four, five games. Really, I’m just trying to work hard on defense in general. When the time comes to call me up, I want to be ready to both hit and field.”





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

newest oldest most voted
The Nightman
Member
Member
The Nightman

3rd paragraph: *anecdotally* – Clearly Carson didn’t edit this!

Erik.T
Member
Erik.T

Also the slash line in the first paragraph is his 2017 slash, not his stats from his 283 professional plate appearances.

Carson Cistulli
Editor
Member

This is also, regrettably, my fault.

Carson Cistulli
Editor
Member

This is my fault.