The Yankees announced today that they’ve signed top draft pick Dante Bichette Jr. For at least the first few years, a draft class is usually defined by its highest pick, and that means Bichette will begin to define the newest group of Yankees. From his draft-day conference call, this is Bichette in his own words:
Can you describe yourself as a player?
“I’m just getting out of high school. I think my dad definitely taught me from a young age to hit as a big leaguer would, behave myself on the field as a big leaguer would and have the strike zone as important as a big leaguer would. I think I’m definitely ahead of the average high school hitter as far as my approach, but there’s always room to improve and I’m going to have to improve and make adjustments the best I can.”
Similar to Dante Bichette Sr.?
“Honestly, I think hitting-wise, I think I’m pretty much the same person. I’m going to hit for average, and I’ll throw in a few power numbers hopefully. We have the same strengths and the same weaknesses. It’s kind of funny, when we watch highlight clips, it’s the same thing going on. Hopefully I’ll be able to learn from him.”
Believe you can stay at third base?
“I know I’m going to have to work my butt off to stay at third base, but I’m going to do everything I can. I’ll try to stay agile, cross train with tennis or something and stay on my toes… Third base is ideal, but the outfield is also a great position.”
Plans to go to college?
“I am committed to go to Georgia, but hopefully we’ll see here that I can pretty rapidly come to a conclusion with the Yankees, and I’d love to be able to start my professional career as soon as possible… I think we’ll be able to reach a conclusion pretty quickly and get out there.”
Where were you when you found out?
“Before the draft I was excited, and I knew that’s where I wanted to go was to New York, and I was hoping I would get to it. I was at my house with my family and friends — only a few closer friends though — and as soon as it happened we were all crazy excited. It couldn’t have been any better.”
And here’s the official release from the Yankees.
The New York Yankees today announced they have signed third baseman Dante Bichette Jr., the organization’s first selection (51st pick overall in Compensation Round A) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Bichette, listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds out of Orangewood Christian High School in Maitland, Fla., 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 was 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.
“We were excited to be able to draft Dante and are even more excited to get him signed,” said Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees Vice President of Amateur Scouting. “Coming to an agreement this quickly will allow Dante to get a full season under his belt in 2011, and gets him ahead of the curve in many ways.”
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.
Bichette has reported to Tampa and will join the Gulf Coast League Yankees when their season begins on Monday.