If you have not heard of San Francisco Giants catching prospect Joey Bart, then you will soon enough.
It has been an eventful seven months for Bart. In June of 2018, Bart was selected by the Giants with the second overall pick out of Georgia Tech in the MLB draft. Now, he is making noise with the prospect rankings:
Bart was ranked as the top catching prospect in baseball by MLB.Com. This list includes a Dodgers catching prospect in Keibert Ruiz, who is highly regarded, but Bart him beat out. Take that, Dodgers.
Bart hit the ground running in his first professional season. Splitting time across 2 levels with Arizona and Salem-Keizer, Bart posted a .294/.364/.588 slash line with 13 home runs and 40 RBI.
With stats like those, why is he not playing for the San Francisco Giants yet? The Giants could use a power bat. Any power bat.
While his stats were impressive, he posted those numbers in the lower minor leagues. The pitching is not as advanced as he will see in San Jose, which is likely where he will start the season.
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In addition to this, Bart has drawn praise for his defense. Bart has been a catcher for a long time, and learned to call his own games in college. Bart’s defense even caught the attention of Bruce Bochy. Bochy came away impressed with Bart’s overall makeup and intangibles.
Bart’s defense seems to be his calling card. It is what immediately captures the attention of scouts:
His bat may be a bit behind his defensive ability. The power is real, and he demonstrated that in his professional debut.
There are some questions about whether Bart will hit for a high enough average. He did post a 19.7% strike out rate compared to a 5.9% walk rate with Salem-Keizer. So, there may be a bit of a swing-and-miss to his game. Though, if he hits enough home runs, the strikeouts will be quickly forgotten.
Regardless, Bart has impressed enough in a short period of time to be considered the best catching prospect in baseball. That is not a common achievement for someone who was drafted so recently.
The belief is that Bart may soon replace Buster Posey at catcher. Of course, Posey’s work behind the plate is invaluable. So, it is likely the San Francisco Giants will pursue an approach that reduces Posey’s workload gradually over time, rather than all at once. There’s no pressure to being the heir apparent to Buster Posey, right?