Bichette Happens

CHARLESTON, SC – Through 43 games this season with the Charleston Riverdogs Dante Bichette Jr. has yet to hit a home run and is batting just .251, but few are worried, including Reggie Jackson. And coincidentally Bichette has been heating up since the Hall of Famer's visit.

"I know it might not click right away, but I know it will click eventually and that's when things will take off," Bichette said. "Home runs aren't an important thing right now. Pujols only has [a few].

"Hitters are going to hit them when they're supposed to. I've been hitting balls hard the whole season and they're starting to fall a little bit more now. The consistency will even out."

Bichette is not fretting over his slow start and neither should Yankees fans. Last year he earned MVP honors in the Gulf Coast League after finishing the season with a .342 batting average, three home runs and 47 RBI in 52 games.

Riverdogs batting coach, Greg Colbrunn, also expressed optimism towards Bichette's slow start.

"He's just getting his feet on the ground so I'm not worried about his homeruns or anything like that," Colbrunn said.

Last week, Yankee legend Reggie Jackson was in town evaluating the RiverDogs talent, Bichette included.

"Having a Hall of Famer come in to work with our kids on hitting is one of the advantages of being a part of the organization that we have and Reggie is awesome at it. He comes in and really helps the kids out," Colbrunn said.

"I try to give them some of the experience I've had," Jackson said. "I understand the art of hitting and so I try to watch and contribute to our hitting coach. I've been around the organization long enough to know what we're trying to teach and what our focus is.

"It's about getting the players focused on winning and being a champion. It's what the Yankees are all about. We're looking to recreate the Derek Jeters, Riveras, Pettites, and all the players who have contributed to the championships rings of the Yankees."

Bichette has taken this opportunity to develop his hitting approach. He is using the knowledge of two acclaimed former big leaguers who have combined their experiences to help these prospects.

"He's been maintaining a good approach, staying on the ball, shortening his swing a little, and getting good pitches to hit," Colbrunn said.

"The big thing has been learning how important getting a strike is and having plate discipline," Bichette said. "I've been walking a lot, but even the pitches that I do hit, if it's not a strike then it's not your pitch and it's going to be hard to get a hit."

"Colby has been doing a great job," Jackson added. "He's very easy to work with, we speak the same language when it comes to understanding hitting and how you should go about hitting and how to be successful. We're on the same page."

Having the knowledge and experience of Reggie Jackson at your disposal is a huge advantage and perhaps it is just what Bichette needs to turn his season in the right direction.

"I got to do some early work with him on the field and he's said some awesome things to me and he's really got my confidence up," Bichette said. "It's cool hearing that one of the best players who ever lived thinks highly of you.

"It definitely makes us play better. He told us we needed to tighten things up. Coming from a guy that we all have tremendous respect for definitely puts a little fire under us and makes us play better."

As the Yankees first pick of the 2011 draft and the son of a former major leaguer, Bichette may be held to higher standards than his teammates. However, Jackson's experience leads him to believe Bichette will be well prepared.

"I don't think there's any extra pressure. I think when you're a player like Dante or whether you're Barry Bonds, son of Bobby Bonds, or Ken Griffey Jr., son of Ken Griffey Sr., I always think that the game is a little easier for them," Jackson said.

"They're not overwhelmed by a major league ball park or professional players. They grew up in the environment. A lot of players like that, who are young and their dads played, I think the success seems to come a little easier for them."

In his short time in Charleston Bichette has left a strong impression on Jackson.

"Bichette looks very advanced," Jackson said. "I really like the way he swings the bat. I think he's got good strength. I like his body and he has a lot of maturity for such a young man.

"I certainly like the way he handles the bat and the way he goes about his work. He's really a high character kid. He mingles really well with the other players and really is one of our good, strong leaders here. The home run thing doesn't bother me. There's plenty of time for that."

Bichette, only 19-years-old, certainly needs to make some improvements, but there is a strong likelihood that he could one day play in the big leagues.

"It's not unusual for a player to be in the big leagues when they're this young," Jackson said. "Bryce Harper is 19 years old, very young. Strasburg was there. So there's a long list of players that play in the league when they're 20, 21,22,23 years old. So while these players are four levels from the major leagues right now, it could happen very quickly."

While there are a few players in the big leagues who are as young as Bichette, they are the exception, not the rule. For players this young it takes individual determination and an advanced understanding of the game to have early success.

"The timing for how long it will take to make it to the big leagues is really up to the player and how well he matures, how well he understands what he needs to do and how fast those things can manifest for him to play on a higher level," Jackson said. The higher up you go, the faster everything happens.

"Hopefully he can get to the big club and be able to make some contributions. It's always exciting for me to see young talent and to see players that start out where I started out at one time and climb their way through the ranks."

Jackson admits that there are several distractions for these young players and offers some advice.

"When a kid is 19 or 20 his thoughts are how well he's doing, missing home, trying to find a part-time girlfriend, having a burger and some fries, and maybe staying away from too many beers," Jackson said. "Focus on playing well, don't get in trouble, don't embarrass yourself, which means you don't embarrass the organization and you don't embarrass your community."

There has been a lot of focus on Bichette's individual progress, but for Bichette, the focus remains team oriented.

"Basically just one goal, not really any personal goals except to get more consistent and get better," Bichette said. "We want to win as many games as we can and win a championship. A bunch of us were joking about going undefeated this season, but we're still trying not to lose any."

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"I know it might not click right away, but I know it will click eventually and that's when things will take off,\" Bichette said. \"Home runs aren't an important thing right now. Pujols only has [a few].
\r\n
\r\n\"Hitters are going to hit them when they're supposed to. I've been hitting balls hard the whole season and they're starting to fall a little bit more now. The consistency will even out.\"
\r\n
\r\nBichette is not fretting over his slow start and neither should Yankees fans. Last year he earned MVP honors in the Gulf Coast League after finishing the season with a .342 batting average, three home runs and 47 RBI in 52 games.
\r\n
\r\nRiverdogs batting coach, Greg Colbrunn, also expressed optimism towards Bichette's slow start.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's just getting his feet on the ground so I'm not worried about his homeruns or anything like that,\" Colbrunn said.
\r\n
\r\nLast week, Yankee legend Reggie Jackson was in town evaluating the RiverDogs talent, Bichette included.
\r\n
\r\n\"Having a Hall of Famer come in to work with our kids on hitting is one of the advantages of being a part of the organization that we have and Reggie is awesome at it. He comes in and really helps the kids out,\" Colbrunn said.
\r\n
\r\n\"I try to give them some of the experience I've had,\" Jackson said. \"I understand the art of hitting and so I try to watch and contribute to our hitting coach. I've been around the organization long enough to know what we're trying to teach and what our focus is.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's about getting the players focused on winning and being a champion. It's what the Yankees are all about. We're looking to recreate the Derek Jeters, Riveras, Pettites, and all the players who have contributed to the championships rings of the Yankees.\"
\r\n
\r\nBichette has taken this opportunity to develop his hitting approach. He is using the knowledge of two acclaimed former big leaguers who have combined their experiences to help these prospects.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's been maintaining a good approach, staying on the ball, shortening his swing a little, and getting good pitches to hit,\" Colbrunn said.
\r\n
\r\n\"The big thing has been learning how important getting a strike is and having plate discipline,\" Bichette said. \"I've been walking a lot, but even the pitches that I do hit, if it's not a strike then it's not your pitch and it's going to be hard to get a hit.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Colby has been doing a great job,\" Jackson added. \"He's very easy to work with, we speak the same language when it comes to understanding hitting and how you should go about hitting and how to be successful. We're on the same page.\"
\r\n
\r\nHaving the knowledge and experience of Reggie Jackson at your disposal is a huge advantage and perhaps it is just what Bichette needs to turn his season in the right direction.
\r\n
\r\n\"I got to do some early work with him on the field and he's said some awesome things to me and he's really got my confidence up,\" Bichette said. \"It's cool hearing that one of the best players who ever lived thinks highly of you.
\r\n
\r\n\"It definitely makes us play better. He told us we needed to tighten things up. Coming from a guy that we all have tremendous respect for definitely puts a little fire under us and makes us play better.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs the Yankees first pick of the 2011 draft and the son of a former major leaguer, Bichette may be held to higher standards than his teammates. However, Jackson's experience leads him to believe Bichette will be well prepared.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't think there's any extra pressure. I think when you're a player like Dante or whether you're Barry Bonds, son of Bobby Bonds, or Ken Griffey Jr., son of Ken Griffey Sr., I always think that the game is a little easier for them,\" Jackson said.
\r\n
\r\n\"They're not overwhelmed by a major league ball park or professional players. They grew up in the environment. A lot of players like that, who are young and their dads played, I think the success seems to come a little easier for them.\"
\r\n
\r\nIn his short time in Charleston Bichette has left a strong impression on Jackson.
\r\n
\r\n\"Bichette looks very advanced,\" Jackson said. \"I really like the way he swings the bat. I think he's got good strength. I like his body and he has a lot of maturity for such a young man.
\r\n
\r\n\"I certainly like the way he handles the bat and the way he goes about his work. He's really a high character kid. He mingles really well with the other players and really is one of our good, strong leaders here. The home run thing doesn't bother me. There's plenty of time for that.\"
\r\n
\r\nBichette, only 19-years-old, certainly needs to make some improvements, but there is a strong likelihood that he could one day play in the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not unusual for a player to be in the big leagues when they're this young,\" Jackson said. \"Bryce Harper is 19 years old, very young. Strasburg was there. So there's a long list of players that play in the league when they're 20, 21,22,23 years old. So while these players are four levels from the major leagues right now, it could happen very quickly.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile there are a few players in the big leagues who are as young as Bichette, they are the exception, not the rule. For players this young it takes individual determination and an advanced understanding of the game to have early success.
\r\n
\r\n\"The timing for how long it will take to make it to the big leagues is really up to the player and how well he matures, how well he understands what he needs to do and how fast those things can manifest for him to play on a higher level,\" Jackson said. The higher up you go, the faster everything happens.
\r\n
\r\n\"Hopefully he can get to the big club and be able to make some contributions. It's always exciting for me to see young talent and to see players that start out where I started out at one time and climb their way through the ranks.\"
\r\n
\r\nJackson admits that there are several distractions for these young players and offers some advice.
\r\n
\r\n\"When a kid is 19 or 20 his thoughts are how well he's doing, missing home, trying to find a part-time girlfriend, having a burger and some fries, and maybe staying away from too many beers,\" Jackson said. \"Focus on playing well, don't get in trouble, don't embarrass yourself, which means you don't embarrass the organization and you don't embarrass your community.\"
\r\n
\r\nThere has been a lot of focus on Bichette's individual progress, but for Bichette, the focus remains team oriented.
\r\n
\r\n\"Basically just one goal, not really any personal goals except to get more consistent and get better,\" Bichette said. \"We want to win as many games as we can and win a championship. A bunch of us were joking about going undefeated this season, but we're still trying not to lose any.\"
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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