An at-bat by at-bat look of Bo Bichette during a three-game look.
A little background: I saw Bo Bichette a decent amount as an amateur in 2016. He was a very divisive player because of the on-field ability, as well as the background involving his family and brother, Dante Bichette Jr.
On the field, few players had the kind of tools Bichette had. His raw power graded out quite highly, as he did it with ease, with many—including myself—putting a future 70 on his raw power. His arm also graded out highly. While I graded it as plus, one could make a case for a 70 arm. An above-average runner in high school, he has slowed down to average, but he still forces infielders to make quick decisions. He has such quick wrists and incredible bat speed to help make up for what is a long, noisy swing with a big leg kick. This is what an impact player was supposed to look like. There were concerns, though. Scouts and executives who saw his brother, Dante, and his results in pro ball soured on Bo because they were similar in terms of their bodies, swings, and attitudes. Neither Bichette did any of the big showcases in the state of Florida. Some were concerned with Bo’s attitude, referring to him as a brat, or a prima donna, among other things.
I still have memories of Bichette burned into my head, memories that are difficult to ignore when viewing him in the present. I know he has all of the tools and ability in the world, I have seen him make all the plays, and that might be distracting me from some of his faults and errors. Of course, I need to judge him fairly. What follows below is an at-bat by at-bat breakdown of a three-game viewing of Bichette. I will follow with a similar breakdown of Vladito later this week.
Game 1 - 7/12 v. Tampa
First AB: Erik Swanson, RHP
This is a good arm going up against Bichette. Swanson has some velocity, 93-95 (t96), he flashes an above-average slider, but doesn’t have much command so he is more than likely a reliever. Bichette attacks a first-pitch slider, 86, down in the zone, soft groundout to the pitcher.
Second AB: Erik Swanson, RHP
Bichette fouls the first pitch fastball, 94. Next pitch, 94 inside, called strike; good pitch, chalk one up to the pitcher there. Swanson then goes fastball 95, down, Bichette is late but has such quick wrists to put the ball in play, Bichette hustles down the line, 4.25, makes it a closer play than you would think.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Kevin Pillar's suspension led to Anthony Alford's debut.
The Situation: With backup outfielder Darrell Ceciliani on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and starting center fielder Kevin Pillar suspended by the team, the Blue Jays have need of an outfielder for a few days. They’ll be using this as an opportunity to get their best outfield prospect’s feet wet in the majors.
The Background: Anthony Alford was taken by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Petal High School in Mississippi. He was expected to go higher, but signability concerns attached to his NCAA football commitment dropped him to Day 2. The Jays gave him $750,000 as part of a two-sport deal that also allowed him to play football at Southern Mississippi. He began focusing on baseball full time in 2015 and immediately broke out at the plate, smashing both A-ball levels to the tune of .298/.398/.421 and breaking onto top 100 lists. His 2016 return to Dunedin was marred by a concussion and leg injuries, but a healthy Alford has resumed mashing the baseball this season, posting an .866 OPS in 33 games in the Eastern League.
Toronto's young closer has a potentially dominant cutter, if he can just figure out how to use it.
Earlier this week BP Toronto ran an excellent article by Kyle Matte about Roberto Osuna’s evolving array of breaking stuff. Specifically, Matte wrote about Osuna’s development of a cutter in 2016, and the way (as he observed, providing considerable evidence) it somewhat cannibalized his slider. Whenever a pitcher adds a new pitch to his arsenal there’s reason to hope that it will add a new dimension to his game, but there’s also cause to worry that it might eat into the effectiveness of one or more of his other pitches.
Last week, I wrote aboutDan Straily’s effort to flesh out his two-seam fastball this winter and about his expressed concern that doing so would compromise his changeup or slider. As I did with Straily’s sinker, though, I thought I'd dig into Osuna’s tunneling numbers to see whether the cutter offered a benefit that might make the tradeoffs worthwhile. What I found was pretty interesting, so I thought I would briefly share it here.
As one grows older, it becomes a habit to search for baseball players who fasten themselves like tent stakes into the past. Rickey Henderson, my favorite player as a boy, was still around stealing bases and hunting for jobs when I was out of college, hunting for jobs. Roger Clemens held out as the last active member of RBI Baseball for Nintendo, 20 years after its release. Bartolo Colon remains the last link of Major League Baseball to the city of Montreal. These players serve as a connective tissue between generations and eras, keeping one fastened to youth for just a little longer.
Toronto sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are both hitting the open market, putting the Blue Jays is a difficult spot.
As the season ended in Toronto last week, Blue Jays fans weren’t simply saying au revoir to the team’s hopes of hoisting the trophy in 2016, they were also possibly seeing team pillars Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista in Blue Jays uniforms for the last time.
Bautista and Encarnacion are, unfortunately for Toronto, hitting the free agent market at the same time, and doing so during an offseason in which the big-bat market is quite thin. The slugger supply does not meet the slugger demand, although it rarely does.