The 2021 season was Bo Bichette’s sixth year in the Blue Jays system and his first full season in the majors. All he did was lead the American League in hits, finish sixth in the AL in stolen bases, post the third-highest fWAR (4.9) of any shortstop in the AL, and play in his first All-Star game.
Blue Jays fans looked on with pride as the electrifying 22-year-old lit up the Major Leagues, settling in as the franchise’s shortstop for the foreseeable future. So much has happened so quickly for Bo – it seems like yesterday that Toronto drafted the teenager out of high school – that it can be hard to keep track of the record-setting, historic start to his career. Here then, is a review of Bichette’s first five years in the Blue Jays system, and the steps that preceded his 2021 breakout season.
2016 (Age 18)
Bichette was home-schooled but played his senior year for Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Though he had verbally committed to Arizona State prior to graduating, he also made it clear that he was focused on turning pro.
In early June, he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr. Baseball for Florida, annually awarded to the state’s top high school player. Baseball America had ranked Bichette the 46th best prospect in the 2016 class prior to the MLB draft. After selecting TJ Zeuch with their first pick and JB Woodman with their second pick, the Blue Jays drafted Bo at 66th overall. Bichette commented at the time that the Blue Jays were his first choice due to the club’s player development system, adding “I may end up taking a little less [in signing bonus], but this is the best fit. I actually turned down about four offers earlier in the draft because they weren’t good fits.”
A review into Bo Bichette’s first five years in the Blue Jays organization and how he progressed through the minor leagues after being drafted.
After signing a $1.1 million bonus on June 17, 2016, Bichette was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays (now known as the Florida Complex League Blue Jays) in Dunedin for Rookie ball. In 91 plate appearances (PA) over 22 games, he hit .427 with an OPS of 1.182, and despite missing significant time due to an appendectomy, was selected as an end of season All-Star at shortstop. He then capped off his 2016 season by representing Brazil in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, eligible due to his mother Mariana being a native of Brazil (his maternal grandfather is of Chinese descent).