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Yankees pick third baseman Bichette

The Yankees chose 18-year-old Dante Bichette Jr. -- whose father once was Joe Girardi's Colorado Rockies teammate -- with the 51st pick in the amateur draft Monday night.

The 6-1, 215-pound third baseman, a righthanded hitter, played for Orangewood Christian in Maitland, Fla. It was the fourth straight year the Yankees have taken a high school player with their first pick.

"Dante is one of the guys in this draft we thought had an impact bat and the potential to hit for big power in the middle of the order," said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' vice president of amateur scouting. "He's someone with an advanced makeup and work ethic who possesses the desire and drive to be a special major-leaguer."

According to a Yankees news release, Bichette hit .640 (55-for-86) with 58 runs, 14 doubles, 10 homers and 40 RBIs in 30 games as a senior. He was named the "All-Central Florida Baseball Player of the Year" by the Orlando Sentinel the last two seasons.

Bichette was ranked by Baseball America as the 15th-best overall player out of the state of Florida in this year's draft. In 2005, he participated in the Little League World Series with his Maitland, Fla. team.

Dante Bichette Sr., an outfielder, batted .299, had 1,906 hits and hit 274 home runs in 14 seasons for five major-league teams, ending his career with the Red Sox in 2001.

The Yankees lost their first-round pick when they signed Rafael Soriano but picked up the 51st pick when Javier Vazquez signed with the Marlins.


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