Dunedin's Bichette bounces back at plate

Second-ranked Toronto prospect collects four hits, four runs

Bo Bichette has multi-hit games in four of his last five contests in the Florida State League. (Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees)

By Andrew Battifarano / MiLB.com | August 1, 2017 12:04 AM

After an 0-for-6 day in his previous game, Bo Bichette came into Monday's outing for Class A Advanced Dunedin with a desire to see things bounce his way again. 

"I just tried to stay with the same focus," Toronto's No. 2 prospect said. "I think I had a good game [Sunday]. Things just necessarily didn't go my way. But the team had a good game, so I just tried to stay within my same routine today and same approach and everything would work out." 

Bichette bounced back with his first four-hit game in the Florida State League and scored four runs to lead the Blue Jays to an 11-2 win over the Florida Fire Frogs at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

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"I feel good, had a rough one [Sunday] and just continued to stay with the preparation and focus and things like that," the Orlando, Florida native said. "I was glad to get some hits."

Bichette wasn't the only one to produce. Top Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. delivered two hits and three RBIs, while ninth-ranked Max Pentecost matched a career high by driving in five runs. 

"Yeah, man, they both can really, really hit," Bichette said. "It just makes it easier for me to be able to watch them play every day, learn from their at-bats, and it obviously doesn't hurt having them behind me." 

An 11-game hitting streak for MLB.com's No. 30 overall prospect was snapped Sunday, but he's amassed a .400/.449/.500 slash line in 19 games since being promoted from Class A Lansing on July 10. Bichette has quickly developed a close working relationship with Jays hitting coach Corey Hart. 

"It's been good so far, it's a lot hotter here, especially when you walk outside," Bichette said with a laugh. "For the most part, it's still baseball. It's baseballs crossing the plate, it's hitters hitting. It's been the same so far and I think I've done a pretty good job of keeping it that.

"[Hart's] awesome. He can really talk hitting with me and he's good at feeling my stuff out. He kind of understands where I come from so that he can coach me in better ways." 

Leading off the game against Joe Rogers (0-2), the Florida high school product worked the count to 2-0 before smoking an opposite-field double to right field. Three batters later, he scored on Pentecost's triple to deep center.

"He's one of the best hitters I've played with in my life, maybe the best, to be honest," Bichette said of the catching prospect. "He has a really good idea of what he's doing. He has a good swing. He competes too ... it's really fun to play with him. I'm really excited to have the opportunity so far." 

Bichette lined a one-out single to right in the third before Christian Lopes followed with a knock to right. With Guerrero batting, the two pulled off a double steal. The 18-year-old drove in Bichette with a groundout to third. 

With Jake Thomas on first in the fifth, Bichette worked the count full before drawing a walk. After a free pass to Lopes loaded the bases, Guerrero plated Thomas with an infield single and Pentecost followed with a two-RBI single to right. 

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In the sixth, Bichette fell behind 0-2 against Adam McCreery before beating out an infield single. The 6-foot, 200-pound slugger found himself in another two-strike hole in the eighth while facing Chase Johnson-Mullins, but lined another single to right. 

"I just try to trust my abilities," the son of longtime Major Leaguer Dante Bichette said. "I just try to battle the pitcher and see the ball as long as I can and still trust my ability to be late and still square it up. It worked out. ... It felt good. After the day I had [Sunday,] it was good to have a good day today and get back on the horse. That last hit felt good, for sure." 

Two batters later, Guerrero brought in another run with an infield single to third. 

"It's really impressive, he's only 18 years old," Bichette said of Guerrero, the son of another former big league veteran. "I say that acting like I'm old, but he's only 18 and it's really impressive watching him go to the field every day and compete and battle. He's unbelievably talented and he's got a great future ahead of him." 

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In a year in which he's played across two levels, earned a Midwest League All-Star nod and an invitation to the Futures Game, Bichette hopes to end the season on a high note. 

"For me, it's about continuing to develop as a player," he said. "Everything that I can get better as a player at, that's what I'm going to try to do. I'm going to get better as a player every day, as a teammate every day and work on being a professional more than anything.

"For me, it's about continuing to evolve as a player and getting ready for next year."

Andrew Battifarano is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @AndrewAtBatt. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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