Fitz and Vig are suckers for big names. It’s the reason why we’re still waiting for the Yanks to sign Barry Bonds as a pinch hitter and Pedro Martinez as our 5th inning guy. So forgive us if we are (lightly) keeping an eye on Dante Bichette Jr. By now, you’re probably aware that Junior won the Gulf Coast League (Rookie Ball) MVP this season after posting .342/.446/.505 with 47 RBI in 196 at bats in 2011. Stout numbers, of course. However, why are Fitz and Vig skeptical of Dante’s ability to reach Blue Chip status? First, Bichette is a touted power hitter that only belted 3 homers in ’11. But secondly, and more importantly, Junior wasn’t young for his level. The Gulf Coast League is comprised primarily of 18 year olds, just like Dante. And doing well versus your same-age peers usually doesn’t result in earning elite prospect status, at the minor league lower levels. It typically results in consistent drop off at each level until a guy is hitting .250 as a 30 year old prospect in AAA. By contrast, former Yankee prospect (and current Pirate) Jose Tabata was a fresh faced 16 year old back in 2005 when he posted .314/.382/.417 with 3 home runs as a member of the GCL Yankees, while performing against guys 2+ years older than him (like dog years for prospects). So, while Fitz and Vig will maintain their slight interest in Junior’s development, it’s mainly due to the big name, not his performance against his age group. Next step for Bichette will probably be as a member of the A-ball Charleston River Dogs (South Atlantic League). Now, if the young man puts up .342 in A-ball, it’ll certainly be worth noting. And a repeat performance in 2A would be worthy of a Dante Bichette Senior inspired fist pump.
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