As impressive as Bo Bichette’s 14 homers are this season, an even more telling statistic of the fear he strikes is the 33 walks he’s drawn in his 105 plate appearances.
“They intentionally walk him a lot,” Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) coach Jayce Ganchou said. “It’s frustrating. He handles it very well. He started stealing bases. He does something about it. If you walk him, you’re going to pay.”
Bichette is the son of former Major League All-Star outfielder Dante Bichette and the younger brother of Yankees prospect Dante Bichette, Jr.
He’s home-schooled but plays for Lakewood and has helped the Spartans advance into the state 5A regional semifinals, where they play Booker (Sarasota) on Tuesday. He’s hitting .571 with 41 RBI and 49 runs and 20 stolen bases in 70 at-bats. Wednesday night, he hit a solo shot as Lakewood came from behind to defeat Lemon Bay in a Class 5A-Region 3 baseball quarterfinal.
Bichette has committed to Arizona State and is a potential first-round draft choice. He’s a sturdy 6-0 and 200 pounds, but his father played at 6-3 and 215 and his older brother Dante Jr., is 6-1 and 210, so Bo could grow out of playing shortstop. His travel coach, Jered Goodwin of Florida Travel Ball Tucci, said Bichette’s bat will find him a place in the lineup.
“A lot of teams are buying in that he can play that position as a pro,” Goodwin said. “If you can hit, they will find you a spot. … The big thing about playing shortstop means you are athletic enough that you can play multiple positions.”
Dante Sr.’s major-league playing career ended in 2001 and though he had a brief comeback in independent baseball in 2004, Bo wasn’t old enough to gain much insight watching his father play. However, when Dante Sr. was the Colorado Rockies’ hitting coach in 2013, Bo got to rub elbows with major leaguers every day.
“I think that was a big turning point for him in his emotional development and physical development,” Goodwin said.”When his dad spent time with the Rockies, he was able to see how guys prepared. It makes him focus. He realizes those guys were gifted but they were willing to put forth a lot of effort in getting better. Not many people get to take batting practice with Troy Tulowitzki.”
Bichette began last season hitting .632, but his power may have improved indirectly because of an injury. His season was cut short after seven games because he injured his right elbow skateboarding and had to have surgery to remove a bone chip in his elbow.
“After his injury his junior year, he took after his weight training,” Ganchou said. “He’s improved his speed and agility by mountains. You can see him grow into it. Now, he’s going opposite field and knocking down triples.”