3 young SF Giants players who should receive an extension
3. Catcher Joey Bart
Here we are. Earlier in the season, Joey Bart's struggles were enough to question whether he is the long-term answer at catcher for the Giants. Despite having another catching prospect inching closer to the majors, Bart has impressed in a lot of ways this season.
For starters, the right-handed bat struggled to the tune of a .596 OPS with a shockingly high 45.3 percent strikeout rate. Why is that impressive? I will admit that I think failure can be a good tool for a player's development and Bart always seemed to have the right attitude despite his struggles at the plate. It is a good test of a player's mental focus.
He was optioned to Triple-A at the beginning of June in favor of a Curt Casali-Austin Wynns catching tandem. Giants hitting coaches worked with him for a week before he reappeared with the Sacramento River Cats. His time with Sacramento was brief, but he posted a .286/.355/.393 line (91 wRC+) but he showed better contact skills as he struck out in only six of his 31 plate appearances.
Casali sustained an oblique strain that put him on the injured list, so Bart was recalled. Since then, he has been on a tear, slashing .284/.322/.477 (125 wRC+) with six home runs, 14 RBI, and 14 runs in 115 plate appearances.
What changed? This is empirical, but it looks like he is more aggressive on pitches in the strike zone. He was more patient, bordering on passive, earlier in the season and got into too many subpar hitting counts. Now, he is more aggressive at the plate in part because that is what has made him such a good hitter up until this point.
Plus, his defense has been better as well. He is controlling the runner game better than he did earlier in the season as he has nabbed 11 base stealers in 41 opportunities, which is a tick above average. On top of this, he has been an above-average pitch framer.
Catcher is one of the more difficult positions to fill. Bart has shown a lot of growth this season, and it feels like he is only going to get better. Locking up the 25-year-old backstop will send a message to fans that he is the next Giants star player.