Yesterday, we began our look at the rich, family tradition in the MLB. Baseball DNA is alive and well, and has long been passed down from generation to generation. One former Colorado Rockie has passed his genes down twice.
Dante Bichette ended his 14 year career having played for several teams, but he came to notoriety in the heart of one of the mid-90s most electric — and powerful — lineups. Bichette in the three hole, Larry Walker batting cleanup while Andres Galarraga and Vinny Castilla flip flopped between the five and six hole. They annually combined for more home runs than some teams in the middle of the Rockies lineup, and Bichette would often get the party started. Bichette ended his career in Boston with an impressive .299 batting average, 401 doubles, 274 home runs and a member of the 150/150 Club.
His namesake — affectionately known as DBJ — has had a rough, if not inconsistent, go in his minor league career. At 24 years of age, and having yet to see Triple-A, his “prospect” window is closing quickly. As the story goes, Dante, Sr.’s last game of his career was the day the DBJ hit his first home run of his young life. Realizing what he would miss out on, and now 38 years old, he hung up the cleats to become the Bichette’s biggest mentor.
It seems like DBJ has been around forever, after being selected in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Yankees. He was selected at a time when the Yankees made a series of early-round draft picks that seemingly didn’t pan out, like Andrew Brackman, Cito Culver, Slade Heathcott and the oft-injured Ty Hensley. Most of those early-round picks between 2008 and 2012 have moved on from the Yankees, but the Bombers still see enough in DBJ to keep him in the organization.
The 6-foot-1, 210 pound right-handed hitter out of Orangewood Christian High School in Florida had a terrific debut for the GCL Yankees, hitting .342 with 23 extra-base hits in his 52-game sample. His next two seasons were spent with the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs and show both sides of what DBJ had to offer. His first year in full-season ball saw him show some patience at the plate and move the ball around the field as more of a gap-power hitter with 24 doubles and three home runs. His second season, he struck out at a much higher rate than 2012, while watching his batting average plummet to .214. He did find some power with a still-career-best 11 home runs, but his production everywhere else was down.
Since he left Charleston, DBJ has floated up and down the Yankees ladder, bouncing back and forth between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, until making Trenton his full-time home this season. Despite his roller coaster ride to the Thunder, he did start for a Trenton team that found its way in the Eastern League Finals. Once a third baseman of the Yankees future, DBJ has begun shifting to first base, where he has seemingly picked up the position rather well. It does come as a bit of a surprise as he doesn’t seem to have the bat that normally profiles with the position. With nothing left to prove in the low minors, DBJ seems heading for Triple-A in 2017.
This past month, DBJ spent time on Team Brazil in the World Baseball Classic. While they lost out to Great Britain in the qualifier, he did get to play with his brother.
Bo Bichette is Dante’s youngest son. The 18-year-old shortstop was drafted this past June in the second round of the MLB Draft, selected 66th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays. Like his father and brother before him, Bo’s swing has a lot going on at all times. He’s twirling the bat and bouncing his hands around his shoulders as he awaits the pitch, drops his hands as he readies to unload his bat, and takes a rather defined leg kick. While some may tell you that there is a lot of movement in his mechanics, something that doesn’t always pan out against advanced pitching (and may be the reason for DBJ’s struggles to adjust), like his family before him, Bo makes it work.
For video and more on the Bichettes, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for the full feature by clicking on the link below: