Bo Bichette gets 'cool' tip of cap for hit from dad
KANSAS CITY -- The next generation of Blue Jays players has officially arrived as Bo Bichette, the shortstop of the future, made his Major League debut in Monday night's 7-3 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Bichette, who started at short and went 1-for-4, singled in his first Major League at-bat off right-hander Brad Keller in the second inning.
“My dad said, ‘Congrats BoBo, you’re a big leaguer,’” Bichette said after the win. “That was cool.”
The introduction of Toronto’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 8 prospect in baseball, adds to the early-season excitement brought already by the debuts of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio, but the highly-anticipated arrival of the 21-year-old Bichette feels like a new beginning for a squad in need of rejuvenation.
“It feels that way, now that Bo’s here,” manager Charlie Montoyo said before the series opener. “That’s what I love about the job -- the kids, the player development side of seeing guys get better. ... It’s fun to watch the kids. It’s a good day for the Blue Jays.”
Bichette’s father, Dante, was a big league outfielder for 14 seasons, earning All-Star selections with the Rockies in 1994-96, and ’98, and pacing the Majors in hits twice, RBIs once as well as winning the National League home run crown with 40 in ’95. The younger Bichette joins Guerrero and Biggio as the third legacy player on Toronto’s Major League roster.
“This is something we’ve been talking about for a few years now, being up here together,” Bichette said. “Obviously, they’ve had a month or two under their belts, but I’m happy to join, happy to get it rolling and see what we can do.”
Climbing the Minor League ladder together, the trio envisioned their future together with the Blue Jays, looking forward to what they wanted to do when this day came.
“Bringing a lot of wins,” Bichette said. “Me, Vladdy, Cavan, we all work pretty hard. We play pretty hard. We have an idea of what we want to be in this game and the type of things we want to accomplish.
“And one of those things is win a World Series, so that’s something we always talked about -- man, we can get up there and create a culture and create an atmosphere that’s fun to be around and win games. That’s what we’re going to try and do, so hopefully we can start it today.”
Added Biggio: “We could see the writing on the wall with the stuff that we were able to do in the Minor Leagues, and the way the organization was moving, with a bunch of young guys coming up. We all saw it as a good opportunity for us to come up and shape out what we were going to do in our time here.
“We all knew it was going to be something special.”
Bichette hit .275/.333/.473 with eight homers and 16 doubles in 56 games with Triple-A Buffalo this season. The native of Florida led the Eastern League in hits, doubles, extra-base hits, runs and total bases last season, all as the league’s second-youngest position player, and he paced the Minors with a .362 average in 2017.
At the same time his career in the Majors begins, the game officially said goodbye to a shortstop who made an incredible difference in Bichette’s life. Bichette believes that while he might have learned some of the same lessons he gleaned from Troy Tulowitzki when the 34-year-old shared a clubhouse with his father, it was the recently retired player who helped Bichette reach the Majors by the same day Tulowitzki held his final conference call.
“He meant a lot,” Bichette said. “I may have figured out some things I learned from him along the way, but I definitely know that the work ethic, the determination, the focus, and the will to get better every day, and the will to help others get better -- that type of stuff he did for other people and what he did for himself -- when I was 14 years old watching him do it every day, it was something that always stuck with me.
“That year was the time I realized, man, I’m good at baseball and I want to work as hard as Tulo to get there. I’m sure I would have figured out the work ethic at some point, but I might not have figured it out as early as now. I might not be in the big leagues at 21. I owe a lot to him, watching what he did and the way he treated me.”
Unlike Tulowitzki, the question with Bichette has typically been about his defense, stretching back to his Draft year, but the Blue Jays have been pleased with the strides he’s taken as a shortstop recently. He’ll slot in next to Guerrero at third base, which will give the Blue Jays one of the most offensively talented young duos in baseball.
“There was a time in my career where I didn’t know if I’d ever play a big league game at shortstop,” Bichette said. “So to know I’m going to do that tonight is huge, but it’s just the first step. I’m really excited to be here and playing and everything, but as excited as I was, I kind of see it like I can’t wait until these first few days are over so I can get on my journey, get going.”