Q&A: 1st Round Pick, Dante Bichette, Jr.

Coming from All-Star bloodlines and possessing some of the best "now" power the Yankees have recently drafted, Dante Bichette, Jr was the first pick of the 2011 MLB draft for the Bronx Bombers. We sat down with the slugging righty to discuss what this all means to him, what position he wants to play as a professional, and how his father has influenced his path.

Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You must be flying right now – what is going through your mind? What was going through your mind leading up to the pick?

Dante Bichette, Jr: Well, after about the 30th pick we knew some people were interested in me, and we were holding our breath because obviously we wanted to get to the Yankees. We were fortunate enough to get past all those other guys, got to the Yankees pick, and they took me. It was just the greatest feeling ever; I couldn't ask for anything better.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Obviously we know about baseball, but are there any other sports you play, or grew up playing?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Actually, from about 6 years old until, well, still now a little bit, I played tennis. I played competitively before high school, and now I play to cross-train and stay in shape over the offseason.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What has been your hardest serve?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: I've been up to 115 MPH. That's the best I've been clocked at. I can hit it hard – I may not know where it's going, but I can hit it hard! [laughs]


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are your height and weight still 6'1", 215 lbs?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: I'm 6'1", 210 lbs. I slimmed down a little bit to help me stay at a corner position.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I usually ask guys when the first time was that you realized you could do something with baseball, but you have a pretty unique situation having been on national television as a star in the Little League World Series. When did it actually hit you though that you were, well, better than almost everyone else?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Well, it's not even that I can do it better than them, it's just that I put in the work. When I was 16 years old I was a dual-sport athlete and my dad gave me a choice. He said "you're going to work hard at something, either tennis or baseball," and I chose baseball, stuck with it, and it has really paid off.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: The Yankees have been in on you for a while, but what was that contact like from your perspective?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: You know, there's nothing more flattering than knowing the best baseball franchise, and arguably the best franchise in sports, is on you and loves you, so their interest was the biggest compliment I could have gotten.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When did their interest really intensify?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Really interested? Probably just short of a month ago. I went up and had a workout at Yankee Stadium, did well there and they loved me, so they felt I was a good bat to take a shot at. We'll see how it all works out!


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How would you describe yourself as a hitter, from your approach, to your mechanics, and everything in between?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Honestly? I'm pretty much my dad. Everything that he knows, he's taught me. I'm going to make contact with the ball, I'm going to hit well, and hit for power a little bit. Hopefully I'll be able to do what it takes to get to the highest level and help out there.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Let's talk specifically about your plate discipline. In the spectrum that runs from a free-swinging Vlad Guerrero to a very precise and selective Albert Pujols, where do you fall?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: I'd say I'm more towards the Pujols end. There's obviously a big difference between high school umpires and pro umpires, so my dad has been training me ever since I was a little kid to have the plate discipline based on what a pro umpire would call. Back in the day it might have hurt me a little bit because I'd get rung up on that pitch a foot outside, but now it's starting to pay off as I get into the better umpires, and I think it's really working to my advantage.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You aren't known for your speed, but what is the fastest 60 you have ran?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: I've been clocked at a 6.9, and I think that's around average. I'm definitely not a burner, but if I can keep hitting how I've been hitting I don't think it will matter too much.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Earlier you were talking about slimming down a bit in order to stay at a corner position defensively – how important is the defensive side of the ball to you?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Well, I've been hitting the weight room pretty hard and running a lot to keep myself in shape, agile, and quick. I definitely want to stay at the corner, and I know I'm going to get the opportunity to do that, so I need to make sure I do everything I can to succeed.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You said earlier that you have your dad's hitting style, but in speaking with Damon Oppenheimer just a bit ago, he said you have your dad's arm, too. How high have you been clocked?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: I don't know if anybody has my dad's arm – he could throw pretty hard [laughs]. But I've been up to 93 MPH off the mound, and 96 MPH from the outfield.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What would someone sitting in the stands watching you play see in terms of how you carry yourself on the field?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: I think they'd see something that me and my dad like to call a "relaxed intensity." You look very focused on the outside, but you're actually very relaxed on the inside. The more relaxed you are the quicker you will be, and that's what the game is about – quick to the baseball, quick to throw, quick around the bases and all that.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you show any emotion on the field? Maybe throw in a fistpump and a yell, or do you just keep it calm?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: [laughs] Fistpump and a yell comes only in big games or when I'm on the mound, actually. I won't be on the mound anymore though, I can tell you that [laughs], so maybe on defense or after a really big hit – something like that.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So is it safe to assume that you grew up a Rockies fan?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Actually no, I don't really remember my dad playing until he was on, believe it or not, the Red Sox. My brother was a hardcore Red Sox fan, so this one might be a little hard for him, but he's happier than anyone to see me go to the Yankees.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the current players that you look up to?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Definitely Derek Jeter and A-Rod. During the season I actually tried to model my approach after what A-Rod does a little bit, and my two-strike approach, which is a lot different from my standard approach, is to try and stay inside the ball like Derek Jeter does. So a combination of both those guys is what I try to be.


Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In speaking with Damon, he said you were the kind of kid that just wanted to get your career started. What is your intention with regards to signing?

Dante Bichette, Jr.: Normally when you see a guy go to the Yankees you think he'll try and get the money, but I actually just want to get out there and get going. That opportunity alone is enough of a commitment from the team for me, so I am just blessed to have it and am ready to start.



Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: You must be flying right now – what is going through your mind? What was going through your mind leading up to the pick?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr: Well, after about the 30th pick we knew some people were interested in me, and we were holding our breath because obviously we wanted to get to the Yankees. We were fortunate enough to get past all those other guys, got to the Yankees pick, and they took me. It was just the greatest feeling ever; I couldn't ask for anything better.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: Obviously we know about baseball, but are there any other sports you play, or grew up playing?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Actually, from about 6 years old until, well, still now a little bit, I played tennis. I played competitively before high school, and now I play to cross-train and stay in shape over the offseason.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: What has been your hardest serve?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: I've been up to 115 MPH. That's the best I've been clocked at. I can hit it hard – I may not know where it's going, but I can hit it hard! [laughs]


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: Are your height and weight still 6'1\", 215 lbs?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: I'm 6'1\", 210 lbs. I slimmed down a little bit to help me stay at a corner position.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: I usually ask guys when the first time was that you realized you could do something with baseball, but you have a pretty unique situation having been on national television as a star in the Little League World Series. When did it actually hit you though that you were, well, better than almost everyone else?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Well, it's not even that I can do it better than them, it's just that I put in the work. When I was 16 years old I was a dual-sport athlete and my dad gave me a choice. He said \"you're going to work hard at something, either tennis or baseball,\" and I chose baseball, stuck with it, and it has really paid off.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: The Yankees have been in on you for a while, but what was that contact like from your perspective?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: You know, there's nothing more flattering than knowing the best baseball franchise, and arguably the best franchise in sports, is on you and loves you, so their interest was the biggest compliment I could have gotten.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: When did their interest really intensify?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Really interested? Probably just short of a month ago. I went up and had a workout at Yankee Stadium, did well there and they loved me, so they felt I was a good bat to take a shot at. We'll see how it all works out!


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: How would you describe yourself as a hitter, from your approach, to your mechanics, and everything in between?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Honestly? I'm pretty much my dad. Everything that he knows, he's taught me. I'm going to make contact with the ball, I'm going to hit well, and hit for power a little bit. Hopefully I'll be able to do what it takes to get to the highest level and help out there.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: Let's talk specifically about your plate discipline. In the spectrum that runs from a free-swinging Vlad Guerrero to a very precise and selective Albert Pujols, where do you fall?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: I'd say I'm more towards the Pujols end. There's obviously a big difference between high school umpires and pro umpires, so my dad has been training me ever since I was a little kid to have the plate discipline based on what a pro umpire would call. Back in the day it might have hurt me a little bit because I'd get rung up on that pitch a foot outside, but now it's starting to pay off as I get into the better umpires, and I think it's really working to my advantage.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: You aren't known for your speed, but what is the fastest 60 you have ran?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: I've been clocked at a 6.9, and I think that's around average. I'm definitely not a burner, but if I can keep hitting how I've been hitting I don't think it will matter too much.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: Earlier you were talking about slimming down a bit in order to stay at a corner position defensively – how important is the defensive side of the ball to you?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Well, I've been hitting the weight room pretty hard and running a lot to keep myself in shape, agile, and quick. I definitely want to stay at the corner, and I know I'm going to get the opportunity to do that, so I need to make sure I do everything I can to succeed.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: You said earlier that you have your dad's hitting style, but in speaking with Damon Oppenheimer just a bit ago, he said you have your dad's arm, too. How high have you been clocked?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: I don't know if anybody has my dad's arm – he could throw pretty hard [laughs]. But I've been up to 93 MPH off the mound, and 96 MPH from the outfield.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: What would someone sitting in the stands watching you play see in terms of how you carry yourself on the field?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: I think they'd see something that me and my dad like to call a \"relaxed intensity.\" You look very focused on the outside, but you're actually very relaxed on the inside. The more relaxed you are the quicker you will be, and that's what the game is about – quick to the baseball, quick to throw, quick around the bases and all that.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you show any emotion on the field? Maybe throw in a fistpump and a yell, or do you just keep it calm?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: [laughs] Fistpump and a yell comes only in big games or when I'm on the mound, actually. I won't be on the mound anymore though, I can tell you that [laughs], so maybe on defense or after a really big hit – something like that.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: So is it safe to assume that you grew up a Rockies fan?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Actually no, I don't really remember my dad playing until he was on, believe it or not, the Red Sox. My brother was a hardcore Red Sox fan, so this one might be a little hard for him, but he's happier than anyone to see me go to the Yankees.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are the current players that you look up to?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Definitely Derek Jeter and A-Rod. During the season I actually tried to model my approach after what A-Rod does a little bit, and my two-strike approach, which is a lot different from my standard approach, is to try and stay inside the ball like Derek Jeter does. So a combination of both those guys is what I try to be.


\r\n\r\nKevin Levine-Flandrup: In speaking with Damon, he said you were the kind of kid that just wanted to get your career started. What is your intention with regards to signing?

\r\nDante Bichette, Jr.: Normally when you see a guy go to the Yankees you think he'll try and get the money, but I actually just want to get out there and get going. That opportunity alone is enough of a commitment from the team for me, so I am just blessed to have it and am ready to start.


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