Bo Bichette is not doing what he did at the plate last year. Many fans already know that the Blue Jays’ # 2 prospect in the system has been struggling in the batter’s box and continues to do so, as he went 0 – 5 in last night’s game, dropping his batting average to .250. His OPS of .699 is not something to marvel over, either.
Bichette has struck out 38 times (the second highest on the team next to Biggio’s 41), which is why his 20.8% K rate is the highest in his young MiLB career. His 10.4% BB is up, which is a positive thing to consider. But overall, he has not been the hitting machine that fans were gushing over last season.
His GB% of 39.3 is rather concerning because ground balls are usually outs and outs are never a good thing. And if you consider how his K rate has jumped this season, you don’t have to watch the ‘Cats everyday to see that this young prodigious bloodline player is in the middle of a shitty slump.
His wRC+ of 103 is just above league average, but Jays fans expect Bo Bichette to be much more than average in Double-A, especially given the way his good friend Vladdy is raking and murdering pitchers in the Eastern League. But, these are two different players on two different baseball paths.
My friend, Doug Fox, at Future Blue Jays wrote about Bichette’s struggles last week. In this great piece, he offers some insight - from a scouting perspective - as to what’s happening to Bichette:
From a scouting viewpoint, Bichette seems to be more aggressive this year than he was last. He’s swinging at a lot of pitches early in the count, and often finding himself in pitcher’s counts more often than not. Few hitters will produce sparkling numbers in that situation, and Bo is no exception, producing a .193/.193/.333 line. What’s more concerning is that he’s been in behind-the-count situations almost twice as often as he’s been ahead, although it bears pointing out that his 11% walk rate is above his career average.
It seems that Bichette’s aggressive nature early in the count may be what’s causing him to struggle so much offensively. But, it’s definitely not something that Jays fans should be concerned about yet. What’s important for prospects and their development is how they respond to being in slumps, making shitty plays, and struggling through that side of the mental game of baseball.
What’s happening to Bichette in Double-A is probably good for his development, as hitting coach Hunter Mense can help him identify the problems that he is having at the plate. It’s hard to know what you’re doing wrong, if you’re not making mistakes. And last year, Bichette didn’t make many inside the batter's box.
Baseball is not an easy game and no matter how strong a player’s tools are, slumps happen. And when they happen, it’s important for the player to ride it out and learn from it because once prospects like Bichette make it to the show, they have a career of slumps waiting for them. But, they will have to remember how to be mentally prepared for them, so that an MLB slump doesn’t send them back down to Triple-A. So, hopefully Bichette will learn from these growing pains that he is experiencing in New Hampshire.
It will only be a matter of time before Bo Bichette gets back to doing Bo Bichette things at the plate. He has far too much talent to go sideways for too long, but that’s how many Jays fans felt about Travis *sigh* Snider, too. So, you just never really know with prospects. But, based on all the scouting reports I’ve read about Bo Bichette and the highlights I’ve seen, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t turn his season around.
Prospects do go sideways and they do straighten out. Just look at how well Sean Reid-Foley has pitched this season. Last year, he struggled with his control and wasn’t very good at all. He went 10 -11, had a 5.09 ERA, and had a WHIP of 1.492. I know these are back of the baseball card kind of stats and ERA isn’t the best way to measure how good a pitcher is, but these numbers give you an idea of Reid-Foley’s struggles last season in Double-A.
This year, he is pitching so well that some fans have started a ‘call him up’ chant, which is dumb for a few reasons I’m not about to get into now. But, it’s exciting that fans are excited about SRF again. He’s 5 – 0, has an ERA of 2.03, and a WHIP of 1.060 – not bad at all.
I interviewed Tyler Murray, the lead broadcaster and media relations manager of the Fisher Cats, for Blue Jays Nation and asked him if he expected Reid-Foley to have a bounce back year. Tyler told me that he’s just too talented to not comeback from last year's woes. He went into some detail about SRF’s struggles last season and what has changed, so you should go read that interview if you’re interested.
Slumps are a shitty thing to be in when you’re a baseball player, or even for all of us hardworking people. Sometimes things just seem to always go right and you never miss a beat and sometimes getting out of bed feels like a big-time accomplishment. At this point in time, getting on base is a big-time accomplishment for Bichette. Let's hope that he starts doing that more often than he has, so the Bichette drum can be banged loudly by Jays fans once again.