Many thought Dante Bichette Jr. was an overdraft when the Yankees made him the 51st overall selection this year, but he was a big early success for the Bombers and he was rewarded Tuesday by being named the Gulf Coast League MVP.
Bichette, an 18-year-old third baseman, hit .342/.446/.505 with three homers and 47 RBI in 196 at-bats for the GCL Yankees. He moved up to short-season Single-A Staten Island at the end of the year and went 1-for-8.
As far as Bichette’s status as a prospect, the excellent showing against fellow 18-year-olds definitely helps, though given his background, he always figured to be one of the most advanced players of the league. Time will tell whether he can last at third base or if he’ll require a move to the outfield. Home run power also figures to be a major issue, though that he hit just three homers this year doesn’t mean much.
Bichette’s performance makes him a virtual lock to open next year in the South Atlantic League with the Charleston RiverDogs. He should be able to maintain solid averages throughout the chain. One year each in the Sally League and the Florida State League would put him in Double-A as a 21-year-old in 2014, and by then it should be clear whether he has a future as a major leaguer.
ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.
After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”
Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.
Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.
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