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Bichette content to wait for his chance to join youth movement in Toronto

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Despite a torrid spring training and an obvious youth movement underway in Toronto, Bo Bichette is content — for now — with being one step away from his Blue Jays debut.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Despite a torrid spring training and an obvious youth movement underway in Toronto, Bo Bichette is content — for now — with being one step away from his Blue Jays debut.

Bichette, the eighth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America, made his triple-A debut Thursday in the Buffalo Bisons' 8-3 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He drew a four-pitch walk and scored in his first plate appearance, but hit into a double play an inning later. He finished 0-for-3 with a run batted in, and was caught stealing after reaching on an error.

After batting .417 in spring (15-for-36) with four homers for the major league club, starting the season anywhere other than Toronto could have been viewed as a disappointment.

But not for Bichette.

"I thought I did everything I could to make it," said Bichette, who hit .286 with Double-A New Hampshire in 2018. "I knew there was a very slim chance to make the team, so I can't be disappointed."

The 21-year-old shortstop led the Eastern League last year in hits (154), doubles (43), runs (95), and total bases (244). He has no particular metrics in mind for his International League tenure.

"My goal is to get better every day and make sure that they know I'm ready to go (to Toronto)," he said. "For me, it's just continuing to get better and continue to learn so that when I get there, I can stay there and be productive right away."

Buffalo manager Bobby Meacham likes what he's seen so far, but cautioned those clamouring to rush the youngster to the majors.

"There's no timeframe," Meacham said. "The focus is getting better every day, doing work and competing. The league will tell you when you're ready to go."

Defence appears to be the weak link in Bichette's game. Meacham indicated that the shortstop has been working hard to improve on his fielding after committing 25 errors in New Hampshire.

"I got to see a lot of him in the spring and it was all good," Meacham said. "He made a lot of progressions defensively, throwing and particularly throwing from the hole. There's no worries about what he can do, but it's a matter of being consistent."

Bichette, whose father Dante hit 274 career homers in a 14-year major league career, is one of three prospects in the Blue Jays organization with big-league pedigree.

Second baseman Cavan Biggio, who hit a two-run homer Thursday and went 3-of-4 with a steal, is the son of Houston Astros legend Craig. And then there's top prospect third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., son of the namesake Hall-of-Famer, who remained in Florida to rehab his strained oblique and appears to be slotted for a stint in Buffalo before his big-league debut sometime in late April or early May.

Bichette doesn't buy the notion that having Guerrero as a teammate has deflected some of the attention away from himself.

"I don't think it makes it easier or harder," he said. "I want to be the best player in the world. There will always be a competition, since he's on his way to becoming one of the best players in the world too. At the same time, we want the best for each other. We push each other and compete against each other, but we want to win. It makes it easier to perform having someone like that pushing you."

While Bichette can envision a scenario where he would be promoted to the majors quickly, he takes a more balanced view.

"If I go out there and hit .400 and hit a bunch of homers and play really good defence, that would make it (an) easier (decision), I hope," Bichette said with a smile. "But I can't really think about that too much. If your focus is on Toronto and you're in Buffalo, your season isn't going to go very well."

Even the 150-kilometre distance between Buffalo and Toronto hasn't entered Bichette's mind.

"I never noticed it," he said. "I'm just playing ball. Being in triple-A makes it feel like you're close."

Mike Haim, The Canadian Press