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Yankees Sign Top Draft Pick Dante Bichette Jr.

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CHICAGO (AP) — Dante Bichette Jr. will make his professional debut practically in his backyard.

Bichette has agreed to a contract with the New York Yankees, who assigned their top draft pick and former Florida prep star to the club’s rookie-level team in Tampa.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi played with his father, Dante, who hit .299 with 274 homers in 14 seasons in the majors.

“I think he’s going to be a good player,” Girardi said before New York faced the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field. “I think he’s learned a lot from his father. I think the young man’s got talent. He’s a student of the game, like his father was.”

The Yankees took Bichette, a third baseman, out of Orangewood Christian High School in Maitland, Fla., with the 51st selection in this month’s draft. He batted .640 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs in 30 games as a senior.

“We were excited to be able to draft Dante and are even more excited to get him signed,” Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ vice president of amateur scouting, said in a release. “Coming to an agreement this quickly will allow Dante to get a full season under his belt in 2011, and gets him ahead of the curve in many ways.”

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