Dante Bichette, who contended for the Triple Crown in 1995 with the Colorado Rockies, told his son Bo to pick up a tennis racket, not a baseball bat, when he was showing a serious interest in sports as a youth.
"I told him, you can write your own lineup in tennis," Dante Bichette said. "You either win or lose. In baseball, sometimes you have to rely on the politics of who is writing the lineup. It's not all that fun."
Bo Bichette became an accomplished tennis player, but he also couldn't resist the call of baseball. Now, nobody is keeping the Blue Jays' No. 9 prospect out of the lineup -- certainly not the pitchers in the Midwest League.
Bichette, a 6-foot, 200-pound right-handed hitter, has been an overpowering force for Class A Lansing. The shortstop/second baseman leads the league with a .357 batting average. Teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto's top prospect, is second at .346.
A second-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2016, Bichette is enjoying a tour de force after a ruptured appendix ended his initial season. So far in 2017, Bichette has banged out 15 doubles, two triples and three homers, ranking third in the league in slugging percentage at .557.
Dante Bichette still likes to think that tennis was a good idea for Bo.
"Bo was an incredibly good tennis player," he said. "He would've been a good one. I think tennis helped his [baseball] game. Athletic movements are athletic movements. The swing, the forehand, the throw … they're all athletic movements. Tennis was a way he could practice without going out and grinding out baseball practices. He could get the same kind of workout, and add some footwork in there."
Lugnuts hitting coach Donnie Murphy said Bichette is a gifted hitter.
"To me, Bo has elite bat speed, and that more than anything sets him apart," Murphy said. "He probably has some of the quickest hands I've seen for a hitter. He also has a good approach. He knows what kind of hitter he is. He doesn't try to be different than what he is. He's also super-competitive. I think that's what makes him a great player and great hitter."
Video: Lugnuts' Bichette homers to right-center
Bo Bichette said he still has boxes to check before he moves up in the Blue Jays' organization.
"I think I just have to show the Blue Jays my maturity," Bichette said. "I'm 19 years old. As long as I show them that I'm ready for the challenge of the next levels, I think that's it.
"I take the game pretty seriously. When I struggle or make a few outs in a row, I get pretty mad. I think the Blue Jays are looking for me to handle a little bit of failure better than I have been. I've been talking to the Blue Jays a lot and basically told them that I'm on-board with handling stuff better and not getting so mad, but I told them I don't want to lose the fire I have as a player, and they're on-board with me. It's a collective effort to try to make that happen."
Bichette said he's content playing shortstop and second base.
"In the long run, playing two positions will be better for me," Bichette said. "Who knows in how many years, but if I'm close to being ready for the big leagues and they need a second baseman, and all I've been doing is playing shortstop, maybe they wouldn't be comfortable putting me up there. I think it gives the Blue Jays more flexibility with me.
"It's easier if you're just playing one position every day, and you know that you're going to play one position every day. I'm just trying to work hard at both and become the best player at both positions that I can. I'm definitely more comfortable at shortstop, but second base is easier, if that makes sense. I like to make plays on the run, and you can do that more at shortstop."
Dante Bichette said Bo's baseball IQ will help him make a name for himself in the game.
"I stopped trying to teach him when he was 11," Dante Bichette said. "I started learning from him a little bit. He's got a really good head for it. He really understands himself. He understands what things mean. His biggest strength is he doesn't panic when things go south. That allows him to recover quickly. I started asking questions rather than teaching right around 11, and he seemed to have a lot of good answers, so I stopped teaching.
"I think the key is his ability to make quick adjustments, because everybody out here is so gifted. You just walk around batting practice and you'll see some really gifted players, but the people who make quick adjustments tend to be more consistent, and tend to put up … maybe not better numbers, but more often numbers. Babe Ruth didn't hit the longest homer, he just hit the most. Hank Aaron didn't hit the longest homer, he just hit the most. Bo tends to make quick adjustments. I give that to him."
Marathon battle: Beloit and Peoria battled into the 15th inning when Andrew Knizner ended the game with a three-run walk-off homer for the Chiefs on May 18. The Chiefs and Snappers had multiple opportunities to end the game, leaving a combined 28 runners on base.
Comeback city: Peoria recovered from a seven-run third inning to beat Cedar Rapids, 12-8, on Monday in the first game of a doubleheader. The Chiefs blasted five homers, including two by Vince Jackson.
Drought ends: Quad Cities ended a 31-inning scoreless drought with a three-run homer by Rodrigo Ayarza in the first inning against Kane County on Saturday. The River Bandits had lost two 1-0 games in the first three games of the series. The River Bandits were outscored, 7-0, in the first three games against the Cougars but ended up winning, 15-8, to end the three-game losing streak. The River Bandits also snapped a seven-game road losing skid with the victory.