If Bo Bichette is missing compadre and top-ranked Blue Jays prospectVladimir Guerrero Jr., it isn't showing.Toronto announced Saturday that Guerrero will be promoted to Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday after attending his father's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown on Sunday. As Double-A New Hampshire officially began life without Vlad,
If Bo Bichette is missing compadre and top-ranked Blue Jays prospectVladimir Guerrero Jr., it isn't showing.
Toronto announced Saturday that Guerrero will be promoted to Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday after attending his father's Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown on Sunday. As Double-A New Hampshire officially began life without Vlad, Bichette provided the pop.
The organization's second-ranked prospect tied his career high with five RBIs, going 3-for-5 with a homer and two doubles, as the Fisher Cats rolled past Hartford, 12-2, on Saturday at Dunkin' Donuts Park.
"Anytime you can drive runs in for your team is good, regardless of how many or what you do to drive them in," the 20-year-old said. "It's a good feeling.
"I haven't felt good at times this year. But today, I obviously felt really good. I got pitches to hit and I didn't miss them."
Bichette didn't factor in New Hampshire's four-run first as he flied to right field. He grounded into an inning-ending double play that was started by shortstop and top Rockies prospectBrendan Rodgers in the next frame. But it marked the final time the Yard Goats retired MLB.com's No. 9 overall prospect.
"My first at-bat I hit a ball pretty decent, just it was caught," he said. "And the next at-bat I did miss a good pitch to hit. But then after that, I pretty much did the same thing, just got a good pitch to hit and I hit them those times."
With one out in the fourth, Bichette roped a two-run double to center on an 0-1 pitch from right-hander Frank Duncan. The 2016 second-rounder plated another run in the seventh with his second double, driving a 1-0 pitch from Parker French to left to score 24th-ranked prospect Forrest Wall, who came from Hartford when the Jays traded reliever Seunghwan Oh to Colorado on Thursday.
Bichette leads the Eastern League with 30 doubles, ranks second with 109 hits and has a .273/.330/.454 slash line with 10 homers and 57 RBIs.
The St. Petersburg, Florida native put an exclamation point on his night by clubbing his 10th homer off Mitch Horacek in the eighth, hammering a 1-2 offering over the wall in left-center field for a two-run shot.
"He hung a slider," he said. "That was pretty much it."
Gameday box score
The five RBIs equaled the career high he set on July 1, 2016 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. In 2017, between Class A Lansing and Class A Advanced Dunedin, Bichette hit .362 with a .988 OPS. He hasn't replicated those numbers in Double-A and admitted to feeling less like himself this season.
"Being aggressive and being athletic, I think I got away a bit from that this year," the 6-foot, 200-pound prospect said. "Recently, I've been trying just to kind of let myself be free, just trying to hit the ball and don't worry about mechanics. So today I felt free and felt aggressive and was able to catch fastballs out front and do damage."
A combination of factors led to Bichette second-guessing himself in the box.
"I think maybe I gave pitchers too much credit, thinking they'd exploit [my athleticism in the box]," he said. "People tell me all the time my swing's too noisy and stuff. I think just a combination of everything kind of made me feel like I needed to quiet things down. Recently, I just kind of realized that's what made me special. I do things a little bit differently. About three games ago, I decided to start going back to my old self and just kind of having fun up there and swinging as hard as I can. It's pretty immediately made some impact."
The two-time Futures Game selection is hitting .256 with a .754 OPS through 19 July contests. But over his last three games, Bichette is 6-for-14 with homers in back-to-back contests.
Bichette said scouts and media have drawn comparisons of his style at the plate to Cubs infielder Javy Baez. Bichette wondered why he was no longer catching fastballs out front and driving them like he did in 2017. So he fired up some video of the Puerto-Rican All-Star and possibly unlocked the answer.
"He's probably my favorite player to watch," Bichette said. "He's exciting. I think I do a lot of things like him, especially as a hitter. He's never really been somebody I've tried to emulate, but I kind of saw video of him recently and I just decided to go do it. It's kind of brought me back to how I was."
Guerrero and Bichette have risen through Toronto's system almost in unison. With the former bound for Buffalo, Bichette expects big things from his friend.
"He's obviously one of the best hitters around," the son of four-time big league All-Star Dante Bichette said. "I wouldn't be surprised if he goes up there and he's the best hitter in that league right away too. He's special and I'm excited for him, excited to see what he can do. Hopefully he gets his chance in the bigs this year."
And Bichette has every intention of making sure the duo isn't separated for too long.
"I think that I'm ready to join him up there right now," he said. "That's not up to me. Whatever the front office decides for me, I'm going to trust it. I'm just going to try and get better here and play as hard as I can. I don't think it gives me any extra motivation, I'm pretty self-motivated myself. I'm just going to try and do my thing and hopefully they promote me soon."
Wall finished 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored.
Rockies No. 9 prospect Sam Hilliard plated a run with a double.
Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca.