In the our Stealth Bomber series, we talk to players in the farm system who aren’t yet on the New York radar, but hope one day to be so.

Dante Bichette Jr was the Yankees’ top pick in the 2011 draft (51st overall). In his debut campaign, he hit .342/.446/.505, led the Gulf Coast Yankees to a championship, and picked up the league’s MVP award. NoMaas’ Sensei John Kreese sat down in the inferno and talked to the Florida product about his first year in professional baseball, his father’s words of wisdom, his approach to hitting, and more.

Sensei John Kreese: So how long have you been in Tampa (working out)?

Dante Bichette Jr: Well, I live in Orlando, but I’ve been in Tampa since the 17th [January].

SJK: Was it mandatory that you be there so early?

DB: I’m not sure if it was mandatory or not, but they gave me the option, so I definitely wanted to take advantage of that.

SJK: Putting in work and making a good impression…

DB: Of course.

SJK: So what types of things are you working on now?

DB: Right now we’re in rotations — hitting in the cages and taking ground balls. We’re getting our arms in shape too.

SJK: Any weight training?

DB: Yes, we work out 4 days a week with a day in-between each, and we also do conditioning in the morning.

SJK: How did your offseason go?

DB: Offseason was great. I went to Instructs when the season was over. I was in the Dominican Republic, that was a lot of fun. Then I went home and took a few weeks off. I went on a cruise and then got back into hitting. I feel great now. I think I did it right.

SJK: You had a killer year last season. You won the Gulf Coast championship. You were the MVP of the league. What are you going to do for an encore?

DB: I want to be more consistent with my approach and learn how to make adjustments quicker. Instead of making an adjustment after a game and realize I was messing something up, it would be a lot better if I could make the adjustment during a game or an at-bat.

SJK: When we spoke with Tyler, he said he didn’t know what team he would be playing with to start the season, because the Yankees typically don’t let players know until Spring Training is nearly over. Do you have any idea where you’re going?

DB: I’m not really sure. They make that decision at the end of Spring Training.

SJK: Lots of guys put up big stats on your team last season. What was it about your team that enabled you to put up these huge numbers?

DB: Our Gulf Coast team was crazy. It was one of the better hitting teams I’ve played on. I don’t think the hitters are ahead of the pitchers either. I actually think the pitchers are further along than the most of the hitters in the league. Our team was gifted. Everybody could hit. Everybody could hit for power. We all got along really well too, and when that happens, everyone gets a little better.

SJK: Any guys really stand out to you?

DB: Yeah, Tyler is one of the first guys I met when I got there, and he helped me get accustomed to pro ball. He raked obviously and got moved up. Isaias Tejeda and Jose Rosario stood out big-time. Ravel Santana went crazy. He’s a great hitter as well.

SJK: Your dad was a longtime big leaguer. You grew up around the game. Is the minor league experience different at all from what you expected?

DB: I grew up when my dad was in the big leagues, and that’s a lot different from the minor leagues. I thought the minors would be a lot of fun, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. It’s a great time and I’m enjoying the grind. I’m enjoying getting to know the guys, and this organization has a lot of great people in it, which is awesome.

SJK: After you were drafted, did the Yankees change anything about your swing? Did they make any adjustments?

DB: Not at all. The Yankees have this rule where they are not allowed to touch you for 100 or 90 days, something like that. My hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez, he wasn’t allowed to say anything, but I was trying to pick his brain within the first week. He didn’t change anything in my swing though. So no adjustments. The big thing is getting adjusted to the pitching. It’s a lot different in pro ball than in high school, competition and speed of the game.

SJK: You played SS in high school?

DB: Yes.

SJK: How’s 3B going, and is there any talk of trying out other positions?

DB: That was up in the air after I got drafted, but the coaches have said I’ve improved a lot. I’m hoping to keep improving and keep my spot at third. If I end up in the outfield, that’s fine. That’s where my dad played, so that would be a lot of fun.

SJK: Only being 19 years old, how does it feel when keyboard heroes talk about your limitations or say “he’ll end up at this position or that position?”

DB: There’s one thing my dad taught about handling things like that — you never believe how bad anybody says you are, and you never believe how good anybody says you are. You just have to stay within yourself and know what you can do.

I actually got a little taste of that when I played in the Little League World Series as a 12-year old. People say good things. People say bad things.

SJK: I actually read about that. During the Little League World Series, there was this story on ESPN about you and Harold Reynolds. You wanted to sleep in or something, instead of doing an interview?

DB: Yeah, it was something early in the morning on a show called Cold Pizza. I slept in and I got some heat for that. It was not meant in a bad intention at all. Our family is pretty close with Harold Reynolds. My parents probably talk to him every other day. I didn’t even think anything of it.

SJK: Amazing, under the microscope when you’re 12. So, your family is pretty tight with Joe Girardi, right?

DB: Yeah, I call him “Uncle Joe.” My dad and him bonded while they were on the Rockies.

SJK: Do you talk to Joe a lot?

DB: I haven’t talked to him much this year and only a couple times last year. He left a message for my dad with “congratulations” after the draft. I haven’t talked to him too much, I know he’s a busy guy, so I try to leave him alone.

SJK: How would you describe your approach as a hitter?

DB: Well, I need to learn to make adjustments quicker. I think I have a decent eye. And if I can use the bat speed that God gave me, it should result in some good hitting.

SJK: Are you looking to work the count when you go to the plate?

DB: No, very rarely do I go up there and say “I’m taking this first pitch.” Normally, I’ve got a plan on every pitcher. I watch them warm up and how they pitch to guys before me. I’ll take that plan into the at-bat and stick to it.

SJK: Did you ever get to hit in Coors when you were a little kid?

DB: Maybe on Family Day, but I don’t remember. I do remember hitting at Fenway Park though. That was a blast. My dad took me out there before a game and I hit a whole bucket of balls, which was pretty awesome.

SJK: Maybe one day you’ll be back there, knocking them up against the Monster.

DB: Maybe, yeah.

SJK: Well, that’s about it, Dante. We appreciate it and we’re definitely looking forward to watching you this year. Best of luck, brotha.

DB: Alright, thank you very much.

Many thanks to Dante for talking with NoMaas. This is two interviews in a row where we were left very impressed by the attitude of these young players. Dante was poised, well-spoken, and already possesses such a professional view of the game. He’s a great kid with a superb head on his shoulders.