Bo Bichette, the 2017 MiLB batting champ, rocketed up prospect lists after an amazing season that led to a Future’s Game appearance and a promotion to High A Dunedin as a teenager. Much has been written about his dominant start to his pro career and Bichette has become a household name in the home’s Jays fans who patiently await his arrival to the Rogers Centre.
Bichette was the 66th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of tiny Lakewood High in St. Petersburg, FL. Scouts seemed bullish on his swing. I found a few examples dating back before Bichette set A ball on fire. From a Baseball America chat with John Manuel in October 2016
Keith (Farmington, CT): Thanks John. There were concerns about Bo Bichette's swing mechanics at draft time. Did his excellent-yet-brief GCL performance dispel all that? Please tell me we can go Boba-chette crazy. #Boknowsstarwars
John Manuel: There are still questions about it; you don’t dispel preconceived notions in 22 games. So we’ll see how Bo handles full-season ball.
From Joel Reuter (@joelreuterbr) said in June, 2016
Making consistent contact will be the biggest battle for Bichette once he begins his career at the next level. He has a bit of a hitch in his swing, but if he can adjust to the pro game, he’ll have a chance to make an impact. Reuter
There are more reports out there and I do not choose to post them all or necessarily give the notion that I am calling these fine gents out for reporting these concerns with the benefit of hindsight. No that is not the purpose here. The above quotes are just a means to shed light that there were/are concerns in scouting circles about Bichette’ swing. Having seen Bichette play extensively when he arrived to Dunedin, the purpose of this analysis to quell some the concern about Bichette’s “hitch”, “wrap” or “load” in his swing.
In this picture, notice the perceived “wrap”. Bichette’s leg kick generates a lot of torque through his core. He does wrap the bat behind his head but the wrap is not initiated by his hands. It is initiated by his trunk rotation. There are two very important take aways. The front shoulder and hip remain closed allowing Bichette to generate power through his lower half while keeping his hands back. Second, notice his top hand. In the photo, you do not see the back of his hand. In the cases of players that get themselves in trouble with excessive bat wrap, the top hand tends to flex at the wrist during the load phase, which lengthens the swing and slows the bat down, leading to weak pull side groundballs and pop ups. Jason Heyward is the perfect example of this. No matter how much he changes his stance, he flexes his top wrist or wraps his top hand .
Below is a slideshow of Bichette’s swing of his first HR with Dunedin. You should notice one big difference compared to the above picture. This HR was with 2 strikes. Bichette displays a remarkable approach with two strikes, spreading his feet and losing his high leg kick completely, instead using his trunk to initiate his load. What is amazing about this homerun that had scouts clamoring was how far out in front of him Bichette was able to make contact.
It is my opinion that Bichette’s bat is so quick through the zone that his increased load allows him to remain on his back leg long enough to recognize the pitch and then use his hips and hands to attack.
Below is some raw video of 3 different Bichette at bats that resulted in 2 center-opposite field hits. You can get a sense of his ability to adjust to off speed pitches and use his hands to make solid contact.