Get to know Bo: Bichette joins Pipeline podcast

Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect talks batting title, playing with Vlad Jr., more

Get to know Bo: Bichette joins Pipeline podcast

The following is an excerpt from this week's Pipeline Podcast, in which Tim McMaster, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo discuss which top prospects have improved their stock the most in 2017, which rookies have the most long-term potential and whether scouts think Shohei Otani will make a better hitter or pitcher in the big leagues. The guys also talk to Blue Jays No. 2 prospect Bo Bichette. To listen to the show in its entirety, go to the MLB Pipeline Podcast page.

Tim 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, in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, and Bo is joining us now. Bo, thanks so much for taking a few minutes.

Bo Bichette: No problem guys. Thank you for having me.

McMaster: 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?

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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 does your offseason look like? If I'm not mistaken, you're not heading to Instructional League, right?

Bichette: I'm not, no.

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.

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.