In advance of Thursday's draft, we will be conducting Q&A interviews with many prospects who are projected to be drafted in the first couple rounds. For a complete listing of these interviews, see click here.
Next up is Bo Bichette, an 18-year old infielder from Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Fla. The 6-foot, 200-lb. Bichette, who is the son of former major-league All-Star Dante Bichette, is an Arizona State commit with raw power who profiles as a second baseman at the next level.
Bichette was recently ranked by Baseball America as the 46th-best player in this year's draft class, and was recently projected by ESPN's Keith Law as a possibility for the Blue Jays with the 21st overall pick. He spoke at length with MLBDD on Friday:
When did you first get into baseball as a kid and realize you loved playing the game?
"Probably around 13 or 14. I started to realize it was a possibility to make my dreams come true. I started to show more of a love for the game and more of a work ethic for it."
When was the moment that you realized that dream could come true, and that you could have a long-term career in baseball?
"When I went to go visit my dad [Dante Bichette] when he was coaching with the Rockies [in 2013], I started to realize I could actually could hit it further than some of [the major-leaguers] at 14 years old. I could do some of the stuff they could do, but also how hard they all worked."
Obviously your dad had a very successful major-league career. What does it mean to you to carry on that family legacy?
"It means a lot. It's been my dream forever to hopefully follow in his footsteps. He had an unbelievable career. It would be awesome and mean a lot to me for sure. Obviously I'm going to try to do better than he did."
Your dad retired in 2001 and then came back to work as the Rockies' hitting coach in 2013. How much time have you already spent around major-league clubhouses?
"Really not that much when he was a player because he retired when I was 2, maybe 3 years old. I didn't get to experience that when he was playing. When he was coaching, I skipped my freshman year of high school baseball and traveled with him through spring training and a lot of the time over the summer when I wasn't playing travel ball. I got to experience that a lot, and I was older so I got to learn more too."
You've heard about the whole Adam LaRoche situation in Chicago. How important do you think it is for players and coaches to have access to their families during the grind of the season? Should players be able to have their kids in the clubhouse?
"It depends on the person and what helps them stay loose and focus. For some players, they love to have their kids around. As long as the kids don't disrupt the clubhouse and stuff like that, it should be fine. I don't know what was going on with LaRoche's situation, all I've heard was that he was a good kid and all that. I think it really depends on the person."
Another resource for you is your brother, Dante Jr., who was picked 51st overall by the Yankees in 2011 and is currently at Double-A. How big of a resource has he been as you prepare for this week?
"Huge. We're best friends and we talk every day. A big plus for me is baseball knowing what I'm going to get into in pro ball, whether that comes now or in three years. I know a lot of kids have no idea that they're about to stay in a motel and about to go on 10-hour road trips on buses. For me to be able to realize that and realize how difficult it is to keep a level head, he's really helped a lot."
Playing high school ball in Florida, you had a lot of great in-state options. Instead, you chose to commit to Arizona State. What went into that decision?
"I honestly I just wanted to get away from Florida for the most part. I wanted to meet new people. Arizona is my favorite state, I love Arizona. As soon as they expressed interest in me, I went out there and visited. The campus is beautiful, the ballpark is beautiful and the coaches, Coach [Tracy] Smith and Coach [Ben] Greenspan are awesome. They really expressed an interest for, when I come there, getting me in better shape for the next level. That was really important for me. The only school I talked to in Florida was Miami. And then South Carolina, too. That was about it for who I was really interested in."
As a player, what would you say is your biggest strength?
"I think it's that I can really hit. I have some pretty good power and can hit it far."
Where do you think that raw power tool comes from? Is it something that you're born with, or is it really a product of hard work and building up muscle?
"I was definitely born with it. I was blessed with a lot of bat speed. I definitely worked hard, harder than anyone I know. I probably enhanced that talent a little bit. I was born with it, for sure."
You won the Under Armour All-American Game Home Run Derby at Wrigley Field last August. How big was that moment for you?
"That was awesome. That was one of my favorite baseball moments I've had so far. My dad was telling me that I was going to be able to hit balls on Waveland [Avenue], and I didn't really believe him. When I got there and I was hitting them out of the stadium, it was an awesome experience."
What is your biggest weakness as a player?
"Coming into the season, I would have said it was speed and agility. Lateral movement and stuff like that as a defender. I've enhanced that tremendously. I ran a 6.6 [60-yard dash] the other day, and my defense has been really good this spring. I've had a couple of teams tell me they like me at shortstop. I would say I've kind of filled that hole. Now, I'm really just focused on getting better at everything."
Which major-leaguer, current or former, would you compare your game to the most?
"I would say, as a hitter, probably Josh Donaldson. He's really aggressive, swings as hard as he can. That's one of my goals every time I'm hitting, to let it loose. As a defender, someone like Troy Tulowitzki. He plays through-balls all the time, I do that quite a bit. I'd say those two guys."
What are your expectations heading into the draft? Which teams have shown specific interest in you?
"I have high hopes. Hopefully it'll be a good night. There are a few teams-- the Rockies, the Blue Jays and Red Sox really like me. There are obviously more, but those are who I thought of."