There were lofty expectations when the SF Giants selected catching prospect Patrick Bailey with the 13th overall pick of the 2020 draft. Since then, he has not quite met those expectations, but his second season of pro ball has had its fair share of positives.
Former SF Giants 1st round pick is finishing season on a high note
It was a bit of a curious pick when the Giants selected a catcher with a first-round pick for the second time in three years in 2020. At the time, Joey Bart was considered the successor to Buster Posey when his career would come to an end. We just did not know that Posey's career would come to an end after 2021!
That said, Bart was picked by the previous front office, whereas Bailey was selected by the current regime. There could have been a difference in opinion on how the Giants viewed Bart or it could be that Bailey was truly the best player available at the time of the pick. Given that Bailey was drafted two years after Bart, there was a bit of a timing gap, so it was not something that the Giants needed to address right away.
Nevertheless, Bailey has not performed in the way that the front office had hoped given his draft pedigree and the amount of draft capital spent on two catchers in three seasons.
The 23-year-old prospect began last season in High-A, but he was demoted to Low-A after struggling to a .587 OPS in 155 plate appearances with the Eugene Emeralds. Not surprisingly considering that he was drafted out of college, Bailey fared much better in Low-A, slashing .322/.416/.531 (148 wRC+) with seven home runs, 24 RBI, and 45 runs in 207 plate appearances. This included a 13.5 percent walk rate against a 22.7 percent strikeout rate.
These were strong results, but that was to be expected for a prospect who was on the older side in the Californian League.
He returned to High-A in 2022. While the numbers do not necessarily jump off of the page, he has shown improvement and is finishing the season on a high note. The switch-hitter has registered a .216/334/.396 line (106 wRC+) with 11 home runs, 46 RBI, and 46 runs in 299 plate appearances. This includes a solid 15.4 percent walk rate against a 22.4 percent strikeout rate.
Bailey has excelled at getting on base since becoming a pro as he has tallied a .354 on-base percentage and a 14.1 percent walk rate. His bat will need to further develop, especially from the right side where he has looked exposed at times.
Despite a .396 slugging percentage, Bailey has shown decent power as he has recorded a .180 ISO, which is a measure of raw power. Plus, the catching prospect has produced a fly ball in 51.1 percent of batted ball events in 2022, so he has not struggled to get the ball in the air.
These are some healthy numbers, and after a rough patch in July, Bailey has generated a .911 OPS in 59 plate appearances in August.
There are only a few weeks left in the season, so it might be too late for a promotion. However, Bailey's performance has positioned him to be in Double-A by the start of next season. It does not hurt that he is also a good defensive catcher with solid receiving and blocking skills as well as a passable arm.
Development is never linear and that has been the case with Bailey. His 2022 has had some highs and lows, but his overall performance could be an example of non-linear development.