The Yankees were drawn to a big league pedigree as they considered their first choice in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, using it to select third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. with the 51st overall pick.
The son of the former four-time All-Star of the same name, Bichette Jr. has some impressive credentials of his own. The Orangewood Christian (Fla.) High School standout is a two-time All-Central Florida Player of the Year.
“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, the 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.”
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Bichette Jr. batted a team-high .640 (55-for-86) with 58 runs, 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in 30 games as a senior in 2011, as Orangewood Christian fell in the Florida Class-2A state finals.
The 18-year-old has already committed to the University of Georgia, where he would be in line to be the team’s starting third baseman. However, the Yankees may have a leg up in convincing him to sign a professional contract instead.
Like they did last year with Cito Culver, the Yankees might have reached a bit with their first pick in the draft. Like last year however, this may have been a guy that they kept a close eye on that others might have overlooked a bit considering Bichette’s father is a very close friend of manager Joe Girardi from their days together in Colorado.
Bichette was not ranked in the top 100 by Keith Law and was only ranked 108th by Baseball America. That may lead some people to be upset with this pick, but the Yankees seem to target certain players they like early in the draft and take them as soon as they can so as to not risk losing them.
Personally I have mixed feeling on this pick. I would have liked to have seen the Yankees get a real steal with their first pick instead of taking a guy who might have been available in the 2nd round. However, he does have power potential that the Yankees have not developed for years in the minor leagues (not counting a certain catcher, Jesus Montero). He should also sign for slot which leaves the Yankees open to having a big second day of the draft.
Here is some video: