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.
The Diamondbacks have signed free agent left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to a minor league deal, per a team announcement on Sunday. The contract includes an invitation to spring training. Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com adds that De La Rosa stands to make $2.25 million if he secures a spot on the major league roster, with up to $600,000 in incentives if he pitches out of the bullpen and up to $1 million in incentives if he pitches out of the starting rotation.
The 35-year-old is expected to compete for a bullpen role after spending the better part of a decade in the Rockies’ rotation. He capped a nine-year run with Colorado in 2016, finishing the year with a 5.51 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 over 134 innings. Despite his struggles out of the rotation, he found limited success in a three-game stint in the bullpen, striking out 10 of 26 batters and holding the opposition to just three hits and one earned run in eight innings.
The veteran lefty is set to join a bullpen comprised of right-handers Randall Delgado, Jake Barrett and Fernando Rodney, along with a number of unproven candidates on similar minor league contracts. His age and command issues may be off-putting, but the promise he showed as a reliever should give the Diamondbacks some upside as they attempt to redeem a league-worst bullpen in 2017.
Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss up to three weeks with a right calf strain, reports John Lott. Donaldson reportedly felt some discomfort in his calf during sprinting drills on Friday and was diagnosed with what looked like a mild strain after undergoing an MRI on Saturday. According to Lott, the 31-year-old is on crutches for the next few days and will likely miss 2-3 weeks of spring training.
Donaldson had a similar scare at the start of the 2016 season, when he limped out of the batter’s box during the Blue Jays’ first regular season road trip with a right calf strain. He returned to DH two days later, however, and was back on the field in less than a week’s time. Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins told MLB.com’s Corey Long that the two calf injuries are unrelated, and expects that Donaldson will recover in similar fashion this spring — well before Opening Day comes around.