JFtC reaches the penultimate spot in our Toronto Blue Jays 2019 Top Prospects list with Bo Bichette
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2019. We’ve selected our Top 20 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”. To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2019 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
Yes, that is a very strong statement, and one that isn’t made lightly.
Bo, son of former MLB slugger Dante Bichette, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 June Amateur draft by the Blue Jays, 66th overall. Bichette, who plays mainly shortstop but has a handful of games at 2B, started his pro career at rookie ball.
In 22 games he hit .427/.451/.732! Clearly Bichette’s hitting was too advanced for rookie ball. 2017 saw him skip A- ball and start the season at A where he once again posted MVP type numbers. He hit .384/.448./.623. Bichette and his teammate, the aforementioned Vlad Jr were promoted to A+ after the All Star break. He hit .323/.379./.463 and helped lead the Dunedin Blue Jays to the 2017 Florida State league co-championship (the championship round was cancelled due to hurricane Irma). Bichette finished the 2017 season with a .362 batting average across the two levels and in doing so, at age 19 became the first teenager to lead all of MiLB in batting since Gil Torres in 1963.
Bichette played at AA in 2018 and for the first time in his pro career, he struggled at times. He was a 20 year old playing at AA where the average player age is more than four years his senior. By his own admission, part of Bichette’s problems happened because he expanded the strike zone and chased bad pitches rather than taking those pitches and swinging at hitter’s pitches. Before the All Star break, he hit .264/.322/.424 – not bad especially for a 20 year old playing at AA, but not what people had come to expect from Bichette. After the All Star break, he looked like the Bichette of old, hitting .326/.383/.505. He finished the season 1st in the Eastern League in doubles (43), runs scored (95) and hits (154). He was also 2nd in stolen bases (32) and 10th in batting average (.286). Once again, Bichette won a championship as he and the rest of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats won the Eastern League title.
In terms of tools, FanGraphs projects Bichette as a 60 hit, 60 raw power and already a 60 throwing arm. His speed is slightly below average at 45 – the fact that he was second in the league in stolen bases speaks to his baseball IQ. You don’t have to have blazing speed in order to steal bases which Bichette illustrates very well. His overall fielding is projected to be 50 grade; his long term future with the glove may be at short or they may eventually move him to 3B or 2B.
The likely place for Bichette to start the 2019 season is at AAA. There are other shortstops in the organization with varying degrees of success in MLB (Freddy Galvis, Lourdes Gurriel Jr.and Richard Urena) but Bichette may have the highest upside of them all. If he continues progressing the way he has been, he could earn a call up to the Majors in 2019. The more likely scenario due to service time considerations is for Bichette to make his MLB debut in 2020 at the latest.
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