Bo Bichette is named after Bo Jackson
For Bo Bichette, with your dad being Dante Bichette, you’re probably going to spend more time in big league ballparks than the average kid
That’s certainly case for Bo Bichette, but of the big league stadiums he’s seen in person—he says Fenway Park and Busch Stadium were his favorites—his first tour of Chicago’s Wrigley Field didn’t come courtesy of his dad’s 43 career games there.
Instead, his first visit to the Friendly Confines came when his brother, Dante Jr., appeared at the 2010 Under Armour game, an annual showcase for the very best prep prospects. Five years later, Bo continued the family tradition when he played in it August 15, 2015.
“That summer was when I realized how good of a player I could be,” he said. “Obviously they’re stronger than me, they’re faster than me and they’re more experienced, but at the same time I was hanging with them, and they were the best in the country, three years older, so that’s kind of when I noticed how good of a player I was.”
Bo was home schooled until attending Lake Vista (FL) High in 2014, his junior year of high school.
"We used to live in Orlando and my brother (Dante Jr.) was playing (minor-league baseball) in Charleston and my dad was coaching with the Rockies. Me and my mom were traveling all the time," Bo explained
"Now that my dad is back and my brother is with the Tampa Yankees, my mom wanted a place that was close by my brother. That’s how we moved to Tierra Verde. We would come over to Lake Vista to practice and we met Coach Ganchou. I thought it would be fun to play high school ball.”
Asked if any of his teammates knew who his dad is, Bichette said, "Maybe a few. But he was a little before their time. I like it like that."
Mariana Bichette, Bo's mother, is the straw that stirs the family drink. She is an extremely intelligent and engaging person. She was asked how she and Dante meet.
"I was a student at Boston University, but I was really more a student of the city of Boston! Dante was the first person to walk in during my first day at work at Gold’s Gym on Landsdowne Street in Boston. I showed him around and made him a few protein shakes. He asked my manager to take me to the game and so my first day of work lasted about four hours. My manager and I walked across the street to the game.
"I had no idea that the structure across the street was Fenway Park, and did not understand what that meant to a Boston baseball fan in general. Afterwards, I told Dante to meet my friends and I at a bar that I worked at, which was also located on Landsdowne. I was about 45 minutes late and I was literally minutes away from not meeting him. Dante was walking out as I walked in. The rest is history. We were married two years later. As a side note, I now have a huge photograph of Landsdowne Street, Gold’s on the left, Fenway on the right, hanging in my family room!"
Mariana was asked about the baseball wife lifestyle
Mariana was asked about the baseball wife lifestyle.
"For me, I just met a guy who played baseball and figured it out along the way. We have had 40 changes of address logged with the post office. I moved from apartment to apartment and never lived in a home more than parts of two years during Dante’s career. I made friends just about as quickly as I would see them go, via release or trade. Literally, I moved in and out of homes three times a year and somehow raised two kids along the way.
"I learned sports massage, carried a massage table over one shoulder while pushing a stroller and holding a hand through pretty much every airport in the country. I settled kids in and then gave Dante a sports massage, once, sometimes twice a day. But I didn’t struggle to travel. I could bring help as my option. I was able to catch Broadway shows and visit museums. I enjoyed dinners in the finest restaurants, often after hours. I also got to watch my husband do something with his life that only a relative handful of people ever get to try. I’m usually in jeans or in yoga clothes. I never want for anything but I also never want much. I did enjoy being around the best of the best everyday. I learned a lot from that time in my life."
In 2016, before Bo's senior season, he had already commited to Arizona State.
June 2016: The Blue Jays chose Bichette in the second round, out of Lakewood High School in Florida. He signed for $1.1 million, via scout Matt Bishoff. So he passed up Arizona State.
Dante and Bo played together for Brazil's World Baseball qualifier team in September in Brooklyn. Their mother is Brazilian.
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Bichette as the 8th-best prospect in the Blue Jays organization. They moved Bo up to #2, behind only Vlady Guerrero Jr. in the winter before 2018 Spring Training. And he remained at #2 in the spring of 2019, again behind Vlady Jr.
Dante Bichette, who contended for the Triple Crown in 1995 with the 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, where Bo was an overpowering force for Class A Lansing. 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.
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."
Lansing 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."
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." (Curt Rallo - Special to MiLB.com - May 25, 2017)
In 2017, Bo represented the Blue Jays in the All-Star Futures game.
McMaster: We're gonna talk about hitters and pitchers in the Minor Leagues who have really seen their stock soar in 2017. And that's where we're gonna start. Because one of those hitters is Bo Bichette. All right, Bo, you hit .362 this season across two levels. That's kind of a video game-type number. My first question for you is: Have you surprised yourself with the numbers you've been able to put up in a couple of years in the Minor Leagues here?
Bichette: You know, I get that question asked a lot. But I would say I'm not really surprised that I've done well. I didn't necessarily think that chasing .400 was in the realm of possibility coming into pro ball. But I'm just working hard and trying to continue to do that
.Jim Callis: Bo, obviously you had a better sense of pro ball than most guys. Your father [Dante] played in the big leagues and was an All-Star, your brothers played in the Minor Leagues. But what about coming into the Minor Leagues, if anything, has been different than you might have expected? Obviously you've played well on the field. But has it been everything you'd expected, or has there been something that maybe was different than you thought?
Bichette: No, I mean, for me, man, there's not a whole lot that can prepare you for pro ball. Like you said, I was about as prepared as anybody could be, and the last month of the season, last month-and-a-half, I was just trying to get out of bed and get to the field and get through the day. The season's long, it's really a grind mentally—more than physically, honestly. There's nothing really that can prepare you for it, but the first season is a great time to learn.
Jonathan Mayo: Bo, not only were you dealing with that first long full season, but you also got bumped up a level. Was that something that you had kind of put on your wish list as a goal for 2017, to earn that promotion? And what did you see the differences were between the Midwest League and the Florida State League?
Bichette: Yeah, that was definitely a goal of mine. I kind of knew that the Blue Jays probably planned to keep me in the Midwest League all year, and so my goal was to try to force the hand. And I did that.The difference between the two levels for me was. There's a little bit more velocity in the Florida State League, for sure. You face 98 mph on a consistent basis. But the biggest part about the Florida State League is, you get to the field and it's 100 degrees, and you've got to take BP and you've got to take grounders. You're physically drained by the time the game starts, and it just becomes a mind game by then, in terms of how you approach the game and get through the heat.
Callis: How much was the batting title on your mind as the season progressed? Obviously you were chasing .400 for a while—you probably have heard repeatedly that you were leading the Minors in hitting. Was that something that you were keeping an eye on down the stretch?
Bichette: I'm not gonna lie, I looked at it a couple of times. But it wasn't really on my mind. I'm kind of a day-to-day person, so for me it was just going to the field and getting my work done and continuing to play well. That was all I was worried about at the time.
Mayo: Thanks to Jim, I know that you're the first teenager to lead the Minor Leagues in batting average since 1963. I guess, do you know who did it before you? Because I don't.
Bichette: Um, no, I have no idea.
Mayo: I'm sure Jim knows the name. Jim, do you know the name?
Callis: It was Gil Torres. Who never played in the Big Leagues.
Mayo: So we won't talk about him anymore.One of the things that's been so fun to watch, not only with the year that you had, but in the Blue Jays system, is you playing alongside Vlad Guerrero Jr. What was that like for you, seeing what he was able to do? Having the MLB bloodlines like you had, how much were you guys able to feed off each other, not only in going through the process, but even in terms of your performance?
Bichette: It was an awesome experience to play with him my first year. To have someone—I was doing really well, obviously, and to have him kind of right on my tail, right behind me in everything, was good for me, and I think it was good for him, too. We pushed each other, and I think we learned a lot from each other also. So it was really, really a cool experience to play with him all year.
Callis: What do you have slated for your offseason.
Bichette: Oh man. I'll be in the gym, and I'll be at the beach. That's pretty much it.
Callis: That sounds like a rough life there, Bo
Callis: That sounds like a rough life there, Bo.
Bichette: Yeah. I'm excited for it. But I'll be getting in the cage and on the field, probably, here in a month, and getting ready for 2018. (McMaster, Mayo, and Callis - mlb.com - 9/22/2017)
July 2018 : Bo represented the Blue Jays in the Futures All-Star game.
September 2018: Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette has withdrawn from the upcoming Arizona Fall League because of lingering knee and elbow soreness. The AFL is set to get underway on October 9, and Bichette was originally expected to be one of the top prospects in attendance. Instead, the Blue Jays have decided to replace him with second baseman Santiago Espinal.
"Bo Bichette experienced some minor elbow and knee soreness at the end of the Eastern League playoffs that will require a conservative course of treatment and rest," a team spokesman said while reading a statement from the club. "It should not affect his offseason or 2019 Spring Training."
July 29, 2019: Bo brought an air of anticipation with him to the big leagues when he joined the Blue Jays’ roster ahead of its game against the Royals. Bichette came not only to play, but he came to win in his Major League debut, which is exactly what he did and what the team accomplished in a 7-3 victory to take the opener of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
“It was really cool,” said Bichette, who went 1-for-4, including a single in his first at-bat. “It was an amazing stadium to make my debut in. Having Cavan and Vladdy near me definitely made it easier, made it feel kind of normal in a way. I’m sure I’ll be able to reflect on it and see how cool it was, but it really felt normal to me today.”
For all the excitement that built up ahead of his arrival, Bichette delivered immediately in the matchup, promptly logging a single to left field in his first plate appearance as a Major Leaguer. And though the young infielder was forced to head back to the dugout when a fielder’s choice followed, he used his impressive wheels and broke up what might have been a double play. (Brudnicki - mlb.com)
“My dad said, ‘Congrats BoBo, you’re a big leaguer,’” Bichette said after the win in his first Major League game. “That was cool.” The highly-anticipated arrival of the 21-year-old Bichette feels like a new beginning for a squad in need of rejuvenation.
“It feels that way, now that Bo’s here,” manager Charlie Montoyo said before the series opener. “That’s what I love about the job—the kids, the player development side of seeing guys get better. ... It’s fun to watch the kids. It’s a good day for the Blue Jays.”
Bichette’s father, Dante, was a big league outfielder for 14 seasons, earning All-Star selections with the Rockies in 1994-1996, and 1998, and pacing the Majors in hits twice, RBI once as well as winning the National League home run crown with 40 in 1995. The younger Bichette joins Vlad Guerrero, Jr., and Cavan Biggio as the third legacy player on Toronto’s Major League roster.
“This is something we’ve been talking about for a few years now, being up here together,” Bichette said. “Obviously, they’ve had a month or two under their belts, but I’m happy to join, happy to get it rolling and see what we can do.”
Climbing the Minor League ladder together, the trio envisioned their future together with the Blue Jays, looking forward to what they wanted to do when this day came. (Brudnicki - mlb.com - 7/29/2019)
“Bo was around with me a lot; he grew up on it … so he kind of gets it,” said former Major Leaguer and four-time All-Star outfielder Dante Bichette, Bo’s father at Bo's 8th Major League game. “He’s always been impressive. He does things, really, a lot better than I ever did. It’s been really cool to watch.”
The elder Bichette said the most pleasant surprise for him so far hasn’t been his son’s hot streak at the plate but his speed and defensive range. According to Dante, Bo’s speed was “below average” when he was drafted, and the younger Bichette spent countless hours in the gym to evolve into a more well-rounded threat.
“Now he’s … kind of a burner, really,” Dante Bichette said. “He’s got a pretty good range at shortstop now, and that’s really from just pure hard work. It was kind of neat to see.”
Just 21 years old, a learning curve is bound to emerge for Bichette eventually, but he is smart enough to know it’s impossible to keep up the torrid pace at which his career began. He committed a pair of fielding errors on Monday night but didn’t appear to let either affect him. Bichette’s home run came just five pitches after he booted a ground ball in the second, echoing his father’s sentiments about his son’s longstanding approach to the game.
“We’ve had a lot of talks about how [baseball] is a grind, and I think he gets it,” Dante said. “He tries to keep even keel, and really, he’s always been like that.”
Bichette said his upbringing combined with a perfectly timed debut to create a unique advantage to boost the start to his career. He’s also leaning on the same aspects as he continues to forge ahead.
“I think my dad helped me more with the transition to pro ball, just being ready from 18 years old to compete and to be ready and to prepare, to slow the game down in ways other 18-year-olds couldn’t,” Bichette said. “And then Vladdy [Guerrero Jr.] and Cavan [Biggio], and Lourdes [Gurriel Jr.], the pitchers. There are a lot of guys out there that I’ve played with this year and in the past three years. To have them out there and have them know what I’m capable of, there’s no feeling that I need to prove anything. It allows me to play pretty free and to have fun out there.” (Klemish - mlb.com - 8/5/2019)
2019 season: There wasn’t a lot to be excited about in Toronto this year after yet another losing season for the Blue Jays in 2018. But the arrival of two of their top prospects, Guerrero and Bichette, brought some array of hope. Bichette made an immediate impact upon his arrival in the big leagues, hitting a double in each of his first nine contests while recording a hit in 11 of his first 13 Major League games. In his 46 games since getting the call-up in July, Bichette is hitting .311 with 11 home runs and 21 RBIs while smacking 18 doubles.
His quick bat has encountered no problems adjusting to major-league pitching, showing the potential to be a future All-Star. Defensively, he’s a vacuum at shortstop, as he has committed just seven errors. He has all the tools to be a very good major leaguer, whether he’s stealing bases or hitting balls in the gaps.
Bichette is part of a unique trio in Toronto of players of former major leaguers. His dad, Dante Bichette, played in the bigs for many years, while Cavan Biggio is the son of Astros legend Craig Biggio. Lastly, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the son of one of the best hitters in the game, Vladimir Guerrero. Three players with Major League dads have never played together on the same team. They sure give the Blue Jays promise for the future.
Both Bo and his brother Dante Jr. have played for Brazil in the WBC due to their mother Mariana being a native of Porto Alegre, Brazil. Their maternal grandfather is of Chinese descent.
The clearest example from the Blue Jays' 2019 season came in late September, 2019 when Bo Bichette took a pitch off the brim of his helmet in Baltimore and later left the game with a concussion. Veteran first baseman Justin Smoak cornered Bichette in the dugout and made it clear to the rookie that he wouldn't impress anyone by toughing it out if he didn't feel right.
"I'm thankful that Smoak came up and said that to me, especially as the veteran voice," Bichette said soon after in New York. "Telling me to go say something, that kind of gave me the OK, I guess."
Now, Smoak and so many other veterans are gone. This Blue Jays team belongs, in every way, to the kids. Signing veteran pitchers like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tanner Roark was done with their competitive window in mind, and the depth moves around them have been made with the goal of supporting or empowering the young core in Year 2.
That "veteran voice" will come from other places now, with more experienced pitchers in the rotation and players like Travis Shaw and Joe Panik joining the infield picture, but it's also the kids' turn. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will lead quietly and by example, something that should expand as the year goes on, but Bichette and Cavan Biggio have a particular balance of leadership styles up the middle.
"Biggio is more outspoken than Bo is," said manager Charlie Montoyo. "They both play the game the right way, which is beautiful, that's part of being a leader. But Biggio, in the clubhouse, he speaks more than Bo does. They are a little bit different when it comes to that, but when it comes to how they play, they're the same."
Bichette's all-effort style sets the attitude for this Blue Jays team, much like Josh Donaldson did at his peak in Toronto. Bichette will be the player that Blue Jays fans love, and rival fans love to hate. Biggio, like Montoyo says, has already been vocal when needed, whether it be in group settings or with individual teammates. Understanding these clubhouse dynamics so early in their career can be linked, fairly directly, to their MLB bloodlines. Sure, they were rookies in 2019, but they knew how this ecosystem operated.
The confidence required for these roles should show on the field, too, the organization expects. The biggest variable standing between the Blue Jays and a competitive season is the sophomore jump -- or slump -- of their young positional core.
This means different things for different players. For Guerrero, it means getting his body right and putting the ball in the air. For Bichette, it means adjusting to pitchers who now have a target on him as one of the game's best young offensive shortstops. Biggio, on the other hand, had the line of the day when asked about how he'll avoid a sophomore slump. Just like Bichette, he doesn't think this is all about the Blue Jays adjusting to the league. It's also about the league adjusting to them and their talent.
"Have you heard of the Madden Curse, too?" Biggio asked. "I think Patrick Mahomes didn't really care too much about that. I don't worry about those type of things. I just look forward to dominating each day and try to get better every day, and when games start, going out there and playing the hardest." (K Matheson - MLB.com - Feb 18, 2020)