The Yankees just made their first pick of the 2011 draft, selecting 3B Dante Bichette Jr. with the 51st overall selection.
The organization is going to pass along a comment from Damon Oppenheimer at some point tonight. I won’t pretend to know a thing about this kid, but obviously the name is familiar. He’s the son of the former outfielder in Colorado who’s a close friend of Joe Girardi.
Sorry about that. The kid’s a third baseman, and initially I accidentally labeled the father a third baseman as well. As far as I know, Vinny Castilla’s son was not drafted.
UPDATE, 11:02 p.m.: A few links with information about Bichette.
Baseball America’s twitter feed says there’s “movement in his swing” but that’s apparently under control, and the kid has big-time power and “plenty of bat speed.”
John Manuel from Baseball America says Bichette has “big-time raw righthanded power.”
Baseball America’s draft blog suggests Bichette will likely move to an outfield corner at some point.
The Orlando Sentinel notes that Bichette was a nationally ranked tennis player when he was 14 years old.
Max Preps writes that Bichette played in the Little League World Series before becoming a high school standout.
In Frankie Piliere’s draft chat he called Bichette “a little unorthodox at the plate” but said “this kid can really hit.”
UPDATE, 11:07 p.m.: Knowing nothing about this kid except for what I’ve read, I can only add that the Yankees spent their first two picks on shortstops last season, their lower levels are loaded with center fielders, the catching depth is well known and I think I’ve written plenty about the pitching depth. The organization is a little thin at the corners, so this type of player makes some sense for the system.
UPDATE, 11:12 p.m.: Quote from Damon Oppenheimer: “Dante is one of the guys in this draft we thought had an impact bat and the potential to hit for big power in the middle of the order. He’s someone with an advanced makeup and work ethic who possesses the desire and drive to be a special major leaguer.”
UPDATE, 11:45 p.m.: Here’s the full press release from the Yankees.
The New York Yankees tonight selected 18-year-old third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. out of Orangewood Christian High School in Maitland, Fla., with their first selection (51st pick overall in Compensation Round A) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Bichette, listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, batted a team-high .640 (55-for-86) with 58 runs 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 40 RBI in 30 games as a senior in 2011, as Orangewood Christian fell in the Florida Class-2A state finals. He has been named the “All-Central Florida Baseball Player of the Year” by the Orlando Sentinel in each of the last two seasons. Following his junior year, he was selected as an Under Armour All-American and named his team’s most valuable player.
He is the son of former Major Leaguer Dante Bichette, who played in 1,704 career games across parts of 14 seasons with California, Milwaukee, Colorado, Cincinnati and Boston, batting .299 with 274 home runs.
“Dante is one of the guys in this draft we thought had an impact bat and the potential to hit for big power in the middle of the order,” said Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees Vice President of Amateur Scouting. “He’s someone with an advanced makeup and work ethic who possesses the desire and drive to be a special major leaguer.”
The right-handed batter was ranked by Baseball America as the 15th-best overall player out of the state of Florida in this year’s draft. In 2005, Bichette participated in the Little League World Series with his Maitland, Fla. team.
The selection of Bichette marks the fourth straight year the Yankees have taken a high school player with their first selection in the First-Year Player Draft.