6 SF Giants prospects who could make an impact this season: 2. Joey Bart
With the Giants atop the standings and a resurgent Buster Posey playing like he’s in his mid-20s again, top-catching prospect Joey Bart has seemingly disappeared from most fans’ consciousness. Yet even though he’s moved slightly off the radar, the third-best prospect in the Giants system heading into the season could very easily play a pivotal role in the closing weeks of the regular season.
Assuming the former second overall pick recovers from a quad strain he’s been dealing with for just over a week, Bart is one injury away from needing to play a significant role at the big-league level. The Giants have received fantastic production from Posey and Curt Casali behind the plate this season in part because they have committed to a timeshare that has enabled both of them to remain well-rested. With Casali set to turn 33 in November and Posey already 34, injuries behind the plate should remain a concern for the remainder of the season.
As great as Posey and Casali have been this year, it’s hard to imagine the Giants abandoning the regimented rest schedule they’ve built, even if one of them goes down. If that’s the case, Bart could be one injury away from starting three games a week for the Giants.
Given how poorly Bart performed against big-league competition last season, hitting .233/.288/.320 in 111 plate appearances, the Giants are hoping he’s taken the necessary strides to be a viable everyday player over the past year. Bart has been productive in his first season at Triple-A, blasting 13 doubles and 10 home runs with a .314/.379/.536 triple-slash over 50 games. However, there remain some reasons for caution.
Bart’s numbers far from standout in the Triple-A West league, even struggling to rank among his teammates with Sacramento. Granted, the River Cats lineup has been stacked with experienced minor leaguers, many of whom have extensive MLB experience. Most concerningly, though, Bart has continued to record below-average strikeout (29.0%) and walk-rates (7.5%).
Still, Bart remains one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Even with concerns about his ability to make contact, the Georgia Tech alum would already be an average everyday player if he had the opportunity. While matching Posey’s elite production would be an impossible ask, Casali has been fantastic in his own right for the Giants this year, even while hitting just .228/.331/.409. If Casali or Posey has to miss a significant amount of time with injury, Joey Bart will have to prove he can post a comparable line.