Almost as soon the SF Giants drafted him, you couldn’t help but compare Joey Bart to Buster Posey.
Joey Bart is without a doubt one of the best prospects in baseball. Drafted second overall by the SF Giants in 2018 out of Georgia Tech, his rise has been meteoric.
It doesn’t take long to think of another catcher who went through a similar rise when you think of Bart: One Gerald Dempsey Buster Posey III.
Posey, who was drafted in the first handful of picks 10 years earlier, really needs no introduction. He started at catcher for three World Series winning teams. He earned a Rookie of the Year Award, MVP, some Silver Slugger and Gold Glove trophies. His career peak was among the best for a catcher in history. He’s probably a Hall of Famer if he can just finish his career healthy.
But at some point, Posey’s going to hand over starting duties to Bart, and likely move to first base.
"“(The Giants’ scout at Georgia Tech) was able to see, this was a guy in college that is calling his own game, he takes as much pride in what he’s doing behind the plate as he does with the bat. He’s a smart, smart hitter. He’s at Georgia Tech for a reason because he’s a smart guy to begin with, but he’s a smart hitter. …“The flashes of Buster Posey are not lost on us, because there’s so much common ground there, really starting with the character of the player,” Evans said."
Bart made it as high as Double-A in 2019, a fast rise for a 22-year-old, especially given that he broke his hand early in the season. He dominated in a league where the players were an average of 2.1 years older than him, too, hitting .316/.368/.544 with nine extra-base hits in 87 plate appearances.
He went on to play in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League after the minor league season ended, going .333/.524/.767 with four home runs in 42 plate appearances.
Still a grade of 60 by FanGraphs (which translates to a belief he’ll be an All-Star player at the major league level), Bart isn’t projected to debut with the Giants until 2021, so there’s still a little while to wait.
Joey Bart vs. Buster Posey at age 22
With that in mind, it doesn’t hurt to take a look back at Posey’s career at the same stage.
Posey was picked fifth overall out of Florida State, a winner of the Johnny Bench Award himself. He actually made his MLB debut a 22, just one season after he was drafted.
Posey had a .326/.428 /.540 line in Advanced-A that year, then .321/.391/.511 at Triple-A. The closest direct comparison we can make, .225/.345/.338 in the Arizona Fall League isn’t really a direct correlation. Posey became an MLB regular the following year at age 23, playing in 108 games.
Bart might not debut quite as quick, because right now the Giants don’t have anywhere to put him with Posey catching and Brandon Belt blocking a move to first. It seems likely the Giants aren’t going to call up Bart just to give him a front-row seat. They’ll want him to play.
But he certainly made his mark in spring training, going 7-for-19 with a .438/.526/.875 line (1.401 OPS). You can’t blame the Giants if they try to find a path for him.
But it’s not hard to see the comparisons are real. The Giants might be about to go from one Hall of Fame catcher to … well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet. But in Bart, they’re probably not going to miss much of a step.