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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.

Third AB: Erik Swanson, RHP
I’m on the side for this at-bat, looking at his hands and load seeing if anything is different. Swanson gets ahead with a slider for strike one. This will be the test for him at this level. A lot more pitchers can throw their off-speed for strikes down here (FSL). Next pitch, Bichette hooks a fastball that he is in front of. The count is now 0-2, and we see a different approach with two strikes than he has in standard counts; he has a much wider base, with a small knee tuck, but still has the same bat wrap as before. Swanson goes slider 0-2, and this happens:

Not many have the strength to take that out, he’s still out in front, this is big boy power. Exit velo: 105mph.

Fourth AB: Andrew Schwaab, RHP
You also see a lot more of guys like Schwaab down here. He’s a side-arm reliever, who eats innings and can be effective because of the different look. His fastball sat 90-92 with good sink, and he showed a slider at 80-82. It wasn’t a sweeper like you see from most side-armers but he can get swings and misses, despite it being a below-average offering.

Schwaab keeps the ball low, he wants to generate grounders, and it is how he survives. Bichette likes to elevate the ball, he wants to hit the crap out of it for hard line drives. He sees fastballs down, sliders down, swings and misses on a 3-1 fastball. Eventually he sees another low fastball on a full count, and shoots it past the second baseman Cavan Biggio for an RBI single.

Game 2 – 7/13 v. Tampa

First AB: Brian Keller, RHP
I like Keller. I have talked about him numerous times, and he has surprised me given his draft status (39th round). While he has been up to 95 in a bullpen, he sits 90-92 (t93), mixes in a bunch of fringe-average to average pitches for strikes, nothing grades out high, but could be a usable bullpen up/down arm. This is the type of arm Bichette probably faced a lot in Low-A.

Bichette wastes no time, fouling off a first-pitch 90 mph fastball—he has always been a very aggressive hitter. Next pitch, fastball for a ball at 90 mph. It’s now a 1-1, do-or-die count, and Bichette gets a slider at 83. He swings and misses; wasn’t expecting it, and ends up way out in front. Now 1-2, I’m expecting more off-speed, but Keller goes fastball 92. Bichette hits a hard grounder up the middle, for a base hit. Bichette gets caught stealing second. Keller does go quickly to the plate (1.14), which helps the catcher, Keith Skinner throw him out. 2.10 to the bag. Looked to be a close play but Bichette is called out.

Second AB: Brian Keller, RHP
Bichette takes a fastball for a ball. Given how aggressive Bichette has been, it is curious that he hasn’t seen more off-speed early in counts. Keller is dialing it up here in the second; a fastball at 93—foul ball, Bichette is out in front as he hits it deep to left field. Keller’s back with another fastball at 91 which Bichette swings through. In a 1-2 count, he gets a slider at 85. It was a pretty good pitch, but Bichette just has such quick hands that cover up his mistakes, and it results in a bloop single to center. Keller is in disbelief.

Third AB: Brian Keller, RHP
First pitch curve in the dirt for a ball. Keller is starting guys out with curveballs third time through the order. He didn’t feature the pitch much early. It’s more of a get-me-over offering, but a different look for guys who have not seen it. Bichette is hunting fastballs until he has to protect. He gets one at 92 and does not miss, lacing a screaming one-hopper that knocks down Kyle Holder. Bichette beats it out, running 4.27 to first. Holder is a good defensive shortstop, Bichette just happens to hustle down for an above-average run time.

Bichette tries to steal second again on a change in the dirt. Skinner is not known for his defense (2.14 to the bag), and Bichette is safe easily.

In the field
One of the reasons why I was never sure on Bichette staying at shortstop was his tendency to play with "his hair on fire." Case in point, Angel Aguilar hits a weak chopper to short, Bichette charges the ball aggressively and attempts to make a throw off one foot, side-arm. Aguilar is not fleet of foot; he is around a 40 runner. Bichette had plenty of time to set and make a quality throw, but he did not, and the throw short-hopped the first baseman for an E6. While Bichette did well to charge the ball and field it quickly, he did not judge the runner and the situation at hand.

Fourth AB: James Reeves, LHP
Like with Keller, I really like Reeves. The guy was a machine last year, and I was surprised to see him back here to start. He has missed some time with an elbow injury, and the stuff doesn’t seem all the way back from last year. He has a deceptive delivery; he hides the ball well, throwing from a low-three-quarters-to-side-arm slot making him a tough matchup for lefties who can also hold his own against righties. His fastball sits 88-89 (t90), he can spot the ball low and it’s his best pitch this night. He also shows a slider at 76-78. It’s not as sharp as last year, but still effective against lefties.

It’s a hitter’s situation for Bichette: runners on first and second, up 2-1. An extra-base hit can put it away, as the runner at first (D.J. Davis) is quite fast. He gets an 89 mph fastball up in the zone. Bichette sees a cookie, but it is too high up, so he gets under it and pops it up for an infield fly.

Fifth AB: Jose Mesa Jr., RHP
This is my first look at Mesa: good bloodlines, big body, missed a lot of times with injuries. It’s an easy, low-effort delivery, that generates good downhill plane. He’s got a fastball at 92-94 (t95), with some cut/run, a slider (83-84) that looks to be his put-away offering with late action. There’s not a lot of break there but it’s an effective, fringe-average pitch. He also shows a curve at 73-75 mph. It’s got 12-6 action, with good depth. His feel for it came and went throughout the outing. He’s an interesting reliever I’d like to see more of.

Bichette sees a slider to start off the at-bat. It’s a called strike on the lower third of the plate. Mesa follows with a fastball at 95 on the outer half, earning a swing and miss. Bichette’s leg kick and long wrap hurt him here as he is way late on the pitch. A curveball fools Bichette. It has a big early hump, causing Bichette to back off, but it drops in for strike three over the plate.

Game 3- Tampa 7/14

First AB: Taylor Widener, RHP
This is my first look at Widener, a college reliever turned pro starter, à la Chance Adams. He doesn’t have his stuff tonight, though. He lacks projection, is smaller for a starter (6-foot, 195 pounds), and has some stiffness to his arm action, but is a good athlete, repeats well, and knows how to pitch, so I can see the intrigue. He’s got a fastball at 92-95, which has mild cutting action at times, lacks plane, and can be hittable. The slider is 80-82, with good action and depth. The control needs some work; though it flashed above-average, it has inconsistent shape and was often left up; it’s a future average offering. His change is 80-83 (t84) and is fringe-average offering, used often in a lefty-heavy lineup. The arm speed on the change is fine, and at best it has fade and run, but he telegraphed and yanked the pitch too often, allowing hitters to see it early.

Bichette sees a first-pitch slider for a called strike, and spits on it. As I wondered earlier with Keller and Swanson, I’m not sure why you’d throw him a fastball unless forced to. Next pitch is a fastball at 93, ball, inside, and while aggressive, Bichette knows he can’t do much with that pitch. It appears he’d rather move on and wait for another pitch. In a 1-1 count, he gets a fastball at 93, which is fouled off. At 1-2, Widener has the slider in his back-pocket if he wants. I see the catcher spotting up inside, and Widener throws a fastball at 95, off the hands. It’s not where he wanted it but is still effective, resulting in a weak grounder to second, 4.31. Bichette more or less just reacted to the pitch and fought it off; it just happened to be in play.

In the field
Here is another scenario of Bichette playing with his hair on fire. The batter for Tampa, Jeff Hendrix, hits a pop-up single past Bichette into shallow left. Hendrix takes a big turn around first seeing if he can get to second, but knows he has no chance and is making his way back. Bichette sees Hendrix take the big turn and rifles the ball back to first, where he has no play, and where the first baseman, Juan Kelly, is not expecting a throw. The throw gets by Kelly and Hendrix advances to second. Bichette is out in shallow left field wondering what just happened.

Second AB: Taylor Widener, RHP
Bichette sees a first pitch fastball, 91, off the plate for a called strike; Bichette, and the Dunedin Blue Jays are not happy with the call. It’s a pitch you should take. Widener, who has had some long at-bats to this point, is struggling. He’s lacking command, his fastball velocity is wavering, and he throws a fastball at 91 for a ball off the plate. The count is 1-1, and Bichette is way out in front of a changeup at 82 and fouls it off. Widener likely knows that Bichette is expecting a fastball, and went changeup to mess with his timing. In the prior at-bat with Bichette down 1-2, Widener went fastball but this time delivers a slider at 82. Bichette is way out in front, but shows quick break out of the box on soft grounder to third baseman Daniel Barrios, who is not fleet of foot. Barrios has no play, 4.31.

Third AB: Taylor Widener, RHP
The bases are loaded with one out, Dunedin is down 8-3, Bichette can make this a game again. This is the scenario I have wanted to see: a hitter in a big situation, against a gassed pitcher he has seen multiple times.

Widener opens with a fastball for a called strike on the lower half. At 0-1, Bichette gets a fastball low and in for a ball. Bichette doesn’t press. He makes the good decision, all he would’ve done with that is foul it off or tap a weak grounder to the pitcher. A ball follows. Now 2-1, Bichette knows a fastball is coming and gets it up and in. He fouls it off. The pitch got away from Widener but he’s able to avoid damage. The long wrap and leg lift make me think about how Bichette’s timing is affected when he has seen this guy drop off-speed pitches on him. I know his hands are quick, but this was his pitch and he should’ve done more with it. With a 2-2 count, Widener can do a lot; it doesn’t have to be a fastball, but that’s what he goes with up and out. It results in a fly ball that should be deep enough to score a run at least. Unfortunately, the runner on third, C/DH Mike Reeves, is not fleet of foot, and is thrown out at home. No steaks.

Fourth AB: Caleb Frare, LHP
I saw Frare last year. He’s a high school kid from Montana, who has dealt with a lot of injuries and setbacks (you can read more here). The delivery is messy and he’s definitely a reliever; he doesn’t finish well, isn’t the greatest athlete, and struggles to repeat. His fastball is 92-93 (t94), up to 96 last year; can flatten out, hitters don’t always square it up, but the control below-average. Maybe 30 command. The slider (82-84), had been a promising offering for him, flashing average a bunch last season, with good depth, but it lacked feel this outing.

The bases are loaded again for Bichette. This time there are two outs. Bichette hasn’t seen this kind of velocity from the left side this week. He gets a fastball (93), and fouls it off. The next pitch is a fastball further up than the previous pitch, for a ball. Another fastball that Bichette fouls off; a good pitch, in-in. Another fastball, this time it’s low, in the dirt; easy to lay off. Finally a slider; it’s low, and Bichette unleashes a jailbreak swing for a soft grounder up the middle. Gosuke Katoh fields it fine but struggles with the transfer and doesn’t have the arm strength to throw out Bichette. He rushes the throw and it gets past the 1B, 4.11 (JB). This is the kind of athleticism that makes Bichette so exciting; you don’t see powerful sluggers with this kind of footspeed.

Fifth AB: Stephen Tarpley, LHP
This is my second look at Tarpley this year. He’s an interesting lefty who can change speeds, shows good feel for his breaking stuff, and can manipulate it. He tends to pitch off his off-speed arsenal and almost use his fastball as a secondary offering. That fastball (88-91 (t93)) has good cutting life but he doesn’t throw it a ton, with only fringe-average control and command. His change arrives at 86-87 mph—it’s a firm offering, almost like a sinker/two-seamer, that generates a lot of soft, weak contact. The slider is 81-85, and he manipulates its shape; some are more sharp with late depth to lefties, but he has a slower one with more depth that he uses to backdoor to righties. He also has a curve at 72-76, and again he can manipulate the shape. The slower one is more of a get-me-over offering, while the sharper one has quality depth and is a fringe-average offering. He’s missed time to injury, and this is his first year working out of the bullpen. Ultimately he could be a swingman.

This looks to be a tough at-bat for Bichette, facing a lefty who can throw a bunch of pitches for strikes and has a good changeup he goes to often. It’s over quickly as Bichette gets a 91 mph fastball on the lower half, in the middle of the plate. He attacks it, but it’s a routine grounder to third.

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Bo Bichette

Born: 03/05/1998 (Age: 19)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 200
Primary Position: SS
Secondary Position: 2B
Physical/Health
Strongly built, had physical projection in his upper body last year but looks to be filled out. Lacks remaining physical projection.
Evaluator <!– –>Steve Givarz
Report Date 07/17/2017
Dates Seen 07/12-07/14
Affiliate Dunedin Blue Jays (High A, Blue Jays)
MLB ETA Risk Factor OFP Realistic Role Video
2019 Moderate 60 55; Quality Regular No
Makeup

Plays the game with a "hair on fire" tendency. Hard worker for his craft when around his teammates. Have had people use the term "brat" or "primadonna" to describe him off the field.

Tool Future Grade Report
Hit 60 Early load with large leg kick and bat-wrap, but has premium bat speed and quick hands. Aggressive fastball hitter, can be pitched to backwards, can use aggression against him. Pitch recognition in nascent stages as he can be fooled on type, but can make contact. Uses an all-fields approach for hit and power, works with what pitchers are throwing him.

2 Strike-Approach: Goes to an extra wide base and eliminates leg kick for a smaller knee tuck, still wraps bat around head but has premium bat speed. Quick hands and bat speed allow him to make contact with all pitches.

Power 60 Plus-plus raw, has incredible strength and bat speed to take balls out to all parts of the field, foul pole to foul pole power. Could play higher but am somewhat worried about functionality against more advanced arms.
Baserunning/Speed 50 Average runner; have a litany of times, best was a 4.11 on a jailbreak swing. Down the line ranges from 4.27-4.41. Did have as an above-average runner in high school, but has filled out and lost a step. Makes defenders work quick.
Glove 50 Plays with his hair on fire. Has quality footwork and hands but can rush throws and make poor decisions. I worry about his side-to-side range as he matures, but he has quick reactions and a quality first step. Has the arm to make all the necessary plays for SS. Has played some second base in the past, could be a plus defender at either second or third.
Arm 60 Plus arm. Plays all over the infield, throws could be more accurate as they can sail high to first.
Overall

While he could be stretched as an everyday regular at short (like, say Marcus Semien), what he brings offensively will allow him to play at the six. He could play second or third depending on organizational need. He brings all-star caliber offensive tools to the table and projects as a quality regular wherever he plays.


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mlsgrad99
7/19
I enjoyed this at-bat by at-bat look. Would like to see more of them.
adrock
7/19
Thanks! That was great.
hyprvypr
7/19
A 6,6 bat at short or 3b? Sounds like a borderline allstar to me...Awesome stuff fellas.
ramtax
7/19
How hard is it to eliminate or cut back on the bat-wrap issue? Is this something he could potentially conquer as he grows? Seems like major-league stuff will just eat him up.