Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette feels ready for big leagues after triple-A success
|Toronto Star 17 Jul 2019 at 10:40|
BUFFALO, N.Y.‚ÄĒBo Bichette looked the part of a major leaguer when he stepped to the plate at Sahlen Field for batting practice this week.
Sporting workout shorts and a long-sleeve T-shirt adorned with the familiar Blue Jays logo, Bichette stood out among his triple-A teammates who were mostly clad in typical blue and grey pre-game gear of the Buffalo Bisons.
Asked if his wardrobe choice was a conscious decision ‚ÄĒ dressing for the job he wants, not the one he has ‚ÄĒ the 21-year-old shortstop laughed.
‚ÄúI just like this shirt better,‚ÄĚ he said with a smile.
Bichette, the son of former MLB outfielder Dante Bichette, is the last of Toronto‚Äôs big three prospects still in the minor leagues after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio debuted with the Jays earlier this year.
The trio of stars have been linked for the past few seasons as they rose together through Toronto‚Äôs minor league system. They all started 2019 in triple-A, and Bichette expected them to break into the game‚Äôs top level together.
‚ÄúBut it is what it is. I‚Äôm just doing the best I can right now to get up there as soon as possible.‚ÄĚ
Bichette, who missed seven weeks of the season with a broken hand after he was hit by a pitch in late April, has been tearing through triple-A since his return on June 13.
As of Wednesday, Bichette was batting .305 (.331 since the injury) with 15 doubles, five home runs, 27 runs batted in, 16 walks and 36 strikeouts through 45 triple-A games.
Those numbers, he said, should speak for themselves when it comes to making his case for a promotion.
‚ÄúIn terms of being ready for the big leagues, I‚Äôve always performed, I‚Äôve always put up numbers, I‚Äôve always gotten better every year,‚ÄĚ Bichette said.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve done everything I can as far as I‚Äôm concerned to show them I‚Äôm ready.‚ÄĚ
Biggio and Guerrero made their MLB debuts while Bichette was out with his broken hand.
Having to miss nearly two months of a pivotal season may not have been ideal for the 2016 second-round draft pick, but Bichette doesn‚Äôt think being healthy all year would have necessarily guaranteed a promotion.
The solid play this season of Freddy Galvis and Eric Sogard, who have created a infielder logjam on the major league team, haven‚Äôt helped Bichette‚Äôs cause.
‚ÄúObviously there‚Äôs a chance that I could have gotten called up but there‚Äôs situations in the big leagues that, if that‚Äôs holding me back now I don‚Äôt see why it wouldn‚Äôt have held me back for the last two months anyways,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúBut I think everything is a blessing in disguise too. I went down (to Florida while rehabbing) and I got to have time off and come back refreshed and I feel great now. I‚Äôm ready to go.‚ÄĚ
Bisons manager Bobby Meacham can understand the frustration for a player itching to make his MLB debut. But he said the importance of refining skills at the triple-A level isn‚Äôt lost on Bichette.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve been trying to tell these guys as much as I can: ‚Äėit‚Äôs hard to keep focused on it but you‚Äôre working on stuff. You can‚Äôt work on stuff up there,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Meacham said. ‚ÄúWe can all say you can develop up there, we can all pretend it happens a lot but it doesn‚Äôt.
‚ÄúThey need to develop skills to get better while they‚Äôre here. I keep trying to impress that upon him and he‚Äôs taken to that.‚ÄĚ
As much as Bichette has dominated at the plate, he‚Äôs also been striving to improve his defence this year.
After making a disappointing 27 errors at double-A New Hampshire through 2018, the No. 8 prospect in baseball started taking his fielding more seriously.
‚ÄúI had always just figured I‚Äôd be able to do it without practising too much but I finally realized last year that I would have to put work into it,‚ÄĚ Bichette said. ‚ÄúSo that was the first time in my life that I started taking ground balls every day and actually working on defence and obviously it‚Äôs helped a lot.‚ÄĚ
Bichette said he hears the clamouring on social media from a Toronto fan base that‚Äôs constantly calling for his promotion. And while he appreciates their support, he doesn‚Äôt need it as any type of motivation.
He‚Äôs got that covered on his own.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not necessarily because fans are calling for me that I want to be up there, it‚Äôs just always been my dream to be up there,‚ÄĚ Bichette said.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs my own personal goal and I‚Äôm trying to do what I can to show them I‚Äôm ready.‚ÄĚ