TORONTO -- Bo Bichette doesn't lack confidence, but even the promising slugger from Florida never could have envisioned his first full season as a pro would be going quite this well.Bichette, the son of former big leaguer Dante Bichette, has taken the Midwest League by storm with the type of
TORONTO -- Bo Bichette doesn't lack confidence, but even the promising slugger from Florida never could have envisioned his first full season as a pro would be going quite this well.
Bichette, the son of former big leaguer Dante Bichette, has taken the Midwest League by storm with the type of offensive numbers that belong in a video game. At 19, he's one of the youngest players in the league but leads everyone with a .383 average, 1.068 OPS and 176 total bases. Add in 10 homers, 51 RBIs and 32 doubles and it has been almost too easy.
The eye-popping stats resulted in a starting job at his Minor League All-Star Game, and a stock that has been rising on virtually everyone's prospect rankings. Another honor takes place today, when Bichette participates alongside fellow Toronto prospect -- and teammate -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Miami.
The 2017 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place today at 4 p.m. ET at Marlins Park in Miami and can be viewed live on MLB Network and MLB.com.
"I expected to do pretty well coming in, but I definitely didn't expect to be chasing .400," Bichette said. "I'm just continuing to stick with my process and routine every day, that has been helping me out. Being consistent with my approach every day, sticking with it, being confident. Everything has just been a combination."
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At 6 feet, 200 pounds, Bichette doesn't have an imposing physique, but he generates a lot of power with unique mechanics. He uses a high leg kick, similar to Jose Bautista, with active hands that wag the bat back and forth before loading up. Prior to contact, Bichette makes what he describes as an "inward turn" with his upper body, which helps generate leverage and torque.
There was some talk in the lead-up to last year's Draft that Bichette would have to make a lot of changes at the plate, but that hasn't been the case. Toronto has let Bichette do his thing, and most of the talk instead has centered around the mental approach to each at-bat. Trying to figure out what pitches to look for in certain counts and taking advantage of every opportunity.
The strategy has worked so far, with Bichette clearly establishing himself as a potential budding star. Despite all of the success, Toronto has resisted the urge to give him an early promotion. That's expected to change in the very near future -- likely after the Futures Game -- but the three-month stint in Lansing provided him with an opportunity to learn what other teams are trying to do after facing him multiple times. The classic cat-and-mouse game with opposing pitchers.
"It has been a back-and-forth all season," Bichette said. "They've gone breaking balls, fastballs in, fastballs away. Starting me off with a breaking ball. They've done pretty much everything, but I just try to make the adjustment as quick as I can. ... I think the longer I've been here, as well as I have been doing, there are definitely things I have picked up and become more comfortable with. Even in the last couple of weeks. Whatever [the Blue Jays] decide to do with me, I'm trusting."
Defensively, Bichette has found a home at shortstop. Playing the position was one of his conditions prior to signing with the Blue Jays after last year's Draft. Toronto agreed but said there would be no guarantees that he would remain there in 2017 or as he moved through the club's Minor League system. So far, Bichette has taken advantage of the opportunity.
"I haven't had a whole lot of experience at shortstop in my life," Bichette said. "I played short, second, third base, I've always moved around. But playing shortstop relatively every single day, I've learned a lot.
"In the last month, I've gotten really, really comfortable there. I've learned a lot. Learned how to play players. It's been awesome working every single day on my defense. It's something I take a lot of pride in, because I want to be a shortstop in the big leagues, and I think it has gone as well I could have hoped for so far."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.