• Dante Bichette Jr.

    Posted by on June 7th, 2011 · Comments (11)

    The Yankees drafted Dante Bichette Jr. yesterday with their first pick (#51 overall) in the draft.

    Baseball America considered Bichette to be the 108th best prospect in the draft. So, I guess the Yankees really liked him to take him that high.

    Maybe someone like Hudson Boyd, Dwight Smith Jr., Brett Austin, or Grayson Garvin would have made more sense at #51 – since they were available? Time will tell, in the next few years, if this was the right thing to do. Reportedly, Joe Girardi is tight with Dante Bichette Sr. – so, maybe the Yankees think they have some inside intel on this one?

    Comments on Dante Bichette Jr.

    1. Scout
      June 7th, 2011 | 8:22 am

      I suspect none of us are in a position to evaluate this choice, not having scouted Bichette, Jr. or the other possible selections. And it will take years to evaluate the 2011 draft, which will be judged by its cumulative results. That said, I like the thinking behind this selection better than what I saw last year. According to Mark Newman, the scouting head, the Yankees have recognized a lack of power bats in their organization. That’s why I thought the selection of Culver over Castelanos last year made little sense. Dante Bichette, Jr., speaks to that need.

      It would be an interesting experiment to see whether an organization would do better over time if it based its picks on the consensus of independent scouting entities that included the Keith Laws and John Sickels of this world. Until that happens, however, teams have to be guided by their own assessment of talent, not what outsiders say. Unfortunately, because it takes a long time for any draft class to bear fruit, we have to take a wait-and-see attitude. The Oppenheimer regime has been in place for about five years. I’d say we still need to wait another two-three years to judge whether it knows what it’s doing.

    2. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2011 | 10:39 am

      Scout wrote:

      That said, I like the thinking behind this selection better than what I saw last year. According to Mark Newman, the scouting head, the Yankees have recognized a lack of power bats in their organization. That’s why I thought the selection of Culver over Castelanos last year made little sense. Dante Bichette, Jr., speaks to that need.

      I actually disagree with this point for the same reason that I disagreed with the Culver selection last year. The Yankees should always be drafting the best available player, not the player that speaks to their greatest organizational need at any one point in time.

      To me, it looks like the Yankees draft strategy is to focus on a position and to just draft it like there’s no tomorrow. Last year it was toolsy up-the-middle guys (Culver, Gumbs, Williams), this year, I guess we’ll probably see them draft corner bats.

      If Bichette were the best available player, I’d have no problem with the selection. But if impact bats at corner positions was what they were looking for, they should’ve drafted Josh Bell and paid him whatever it took to buy him out of his scholarship to U-Texas. The Yanks have the money to spend and should be focusing on the best players, not the best players they can sign or the best players that fill an organizational need.

    3. Scout
      June 7th, 2011 | 11:01 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      The Yankees should always be drafting the best available player,

      Is it really clear who the best available player is? Comparing pitchers and position players is an apples-to-oranges comparison, to say the least. If the organization is deeply stocked with certain types of players, it makes sense to lean elsewhere IF the talent evaluation between them is close.

      I believe the stress should be on players with a high upside and those who are fundamentally sound. Thus, if it would require a major reworking of a player’s swing to make him a viable hitter, then I would shy away from him.

      The Yankees may have preferred Bichette, Jr. to Bell. As I said, they pay their own scouts, rather than rely on the collective wisdom of the unaffiliated scouting fraternity. Whether they are wise to do so is the question I raised.

    4. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2011 | 11:44 am

      Scout wrote:

      The Oppenheimer regime has been in place for about five years. I’d say we still need to wait another two-three years to judge whether it knows what it’s doing.

      From what I can tell of Oppenheimer, he excells at finding talent via international free agency but has a less-than-stellar record in the Rule IV draft. Such a discrepancy supports my own personal theory that the Yankees intentionally hold back in the draft because they don’t want to “kill the golden goose” and have 29 other MLB teams complaining that the Yankees exploit the Rule IV draft in the same way in which they exploit international free agency and Major League free agency.

      I can see no other rational explanation for how they can continue to mine talent in Latin America but can’t do so among the domestic amateurs ranks.

    5. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2011 | 12:04 pm

      Scout wrote:

      Is it really clear who the best available player is?

      To a certain extent I think it is, yes.

      Scout wrote:

      the organization is deeply stocked with certain types of players, it makes sense to lean elsewhere IF the talent evaluation between them is close.

      I don’t agree with this at all. Teams should always draft the players with the highest ceiling irrespective of position. Unlike the NFL or NBA, where drafted players have a next to immediate expectation to contribute, baseball teams can afford to take the much longer view on draft prospects and should always consider ceiling above need. If two players are evaluated and deemed to have identical ceilings then a team can factor in positional or organizational need. But it’s rare for this type of equivalency to exist within the first 50 picks of a draft.

      Scout wrote:

      [T]hey pay their own scouts, rather than rely on the collective wisdom of the unaffiliated scouting fraternity.

      First, I disagree with this because the “unaffiliated scouting fraternity” is made up of people who get a majority of their information from the “official” or “affiliated” scouting community.

      Second, a number of of these unaffiliated scouts are actually ex-scouts themselves (Frankie Pilierre, for example) so they’re applying institutional knowledge to the community that would otherwise rely on dedicated but nevertheless amateur opinions (say, John Sickels).

      Even if we assume that the outsiders know less than the insiders — and I don’t feel comfortable making such a blanket assumption — it still seems incongruous that all outsiders would develop a consensus on a particular player (like Josh Bell) that Yankee insiders would disagree with. At a certain point you have to accept that there’s a valid reason for why Bell was ranked where he was.

      Given how last year’s draft unfolded and assuming that today is more of the same, it’ll be very hard to wash away all of this insider/outsider talk as anything more than evidence that Yankee scouts have a completely different opinion on players than most teams. And if Boston is any guide, it seems more and more apparent to me that it’s the Yankees that are the outsiders since Boston seems to always draft the guys that all the outsiders agree with.

    6. MJ Recanati
      June 7th, 2011 | 12:35 pm

      @ Scout:
      Josh Bell taken by Pittsburgh with the first pick in the second round.

      It’ll take Pittsburgh a ton of cash to get both Cole and Bell signed but if they get it done, wow, their draft haul the past two years is impressive (counting Talleon from last year).

      Bell is this year’s Castellanos for me. The Yankees should’ve taken him.

    7. redbug
      June 7th, 2011 | 6:11 pm

      I heard on the radio today that Girardi and Bichette Sr are very good friends. Bichette Sr was Girardi’s best man. That’s either good or bad. Good, if Joe knows Jr well and sees his potential. Bad, if he’s allowing his emotions rule his thinking.

      Time will tell. You never know.

    8. Scout
      June 7th, 2011 | 7:37 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      And if Boston is any guide, it seems more and more apparent to me that it’s the Yankees that are the outsiders since Boston seems to always draft the guys that all the outsiders agree with.

      Interestingly, Boston also reportedly shares more of its information with the scouting community. If that is true, then Boston’s drafts are self-confirming — the Red Sox pick the players the organization rates highly, an evaluation that outsiders echo. The test, then, is whether either organization generates better results. To be clear, I am not an Oppenheimer fan — I’ve often criticized the Yankee approach — but I am prepared to give him more time to demonstrate he knows what he’s doing.

      A case could be made for a hybrid approach, in which the team balances its own assessment of players against a consensus of the BA/Law/Pilierre types. It might help a team avoid trying to be too smart. But if the organization believes in its scouts, then it makes little sense not to give them the final say.

      So, ultimately, there are two issues here:

      (1) Draft philosophy. Do you go for the best player available or factor in organizational needs? My contention is that rarely will the “best player” stand out, other than in a particular position grouping. You can compare corner outfielders to each other, but not to shortstops and catchers, and certainly not to pitchers. This year the Yankees have shown a strong preference for power hitters. By picking a bunch in the draft, they believe they’ll maximize the likelihood that a couple will pan out. I’m not thrilled with the approach, but last year they went so heavily for up-the-middle toolsy types that they may now have a better balance.

      (2) Who do you trust, your own scouts or the scouting community? As I said, it would be an interesting study to compare the organizational evaluation to the BA et al consensus five or seven years later. If it turns out that the latter is a better predictor of success, then the team ought to fire its scouting director and/or rely on Keith Law, John Sickels, and the like to make picks for the first six or seven rounds and then use their own scouts for the later rounds.

    9. 77yankees
      June 7th, 2011 | 11:31 pm

      Look, you can sum up what a crapshoot the draft can be in this:

      Albert Pujols was a 13th round draft choice in 1999. The guy with ten full seasons, three MVPs, and nine top 4 finishes in the MVP voting was passed over a solid 10+ times by EVERY team in MLB.

    10. MJ Recanati
      June 8th, 2011 | 10:05 am

      @ Scout:
      I had a long response typed out and then my goddamn internet went out so I’m not able to retrieve it.

      I don’t feel like retyping it so, suffice it to say, agree to disagree (vehemently).

    11. MJ Recanati
      June 8th, 2011 | 3:23 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Maybe someone like Hudson Boyd, Dwight Smith Jr., Brett Austin, or Grayson Garvin would have made more sense at #51 – since they were available?

      Garvin would’ve been a decent pick. Not overly fond of Smith, especially when Josh Bell was still sitting there.

      As for Boyd and Austin, I don’t want to pay a prep righty to top out as a mid-rotation starter and the Yankees don’t need to pay big bonus money to a prep catcher when they have more catchers in the low minors than they know what to do with.

      I certainly wouldn’t have gone with Bichette but, of your four proposals, only Garvin would’ve been acceptable to me.

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