It wasn't so long ago that Joey Bart was predicted to be the "next big thing" behind the plate for the SF Giants. With Buster Posey on hand, Bart was meant to learn the ropes from him and eventually replace him as the next face of the franchise.
SF Giants: Farhan Zaidi indicates 2023 is make-or-break year for Joey Bart
Bart, now 26, was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He consistently landed in the top-50 in MLB prospect rankings from the pre-2019 versions all the way through the pre-2022 rankings.
At every step of the way, the backstop would carve up minor league pitching and eventually earned his first big league promotion in 2020. After hitting .233 with 37% of his plate appearances ending in a strikeout, things suddenly looked a lot less clear for the once-promising talent. He made two appearances in 2021 before making it into 97 games last year, hitting .215 with an 86 OPS+ in 261 at-bats.
Here we are at the beginning of the 2023 campaign, and the poor performances may be catching up to Bart. Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi recently joined Tom Tolbert and Adam Copeland on The Executive Show on KNBR and made some comments suggesting that Bart's leash may not be much longer.
""When you think of what Joey Bart can be, you think of a guy hitting fifth or sixth in the order, not eighth or ninth as he has for us. He's got power but there's a difference between being a .280/.290 OPS guy and being a .340, .350 guy. We've told Joey that for us to go where we want to go as a team, we need to see some improvements from him.""- Farhan Zaidi
These comments do not come as much of a surprise. A player with so much hype and lofty expectations should be contributing more than Bart has. His offense has been nowhere to be found and Zaidi goes on to say that this could push the club to perhaps start exploring other options.
"Last year was his first full year, he's still young. A lot of guys get better with a little more time under their belts and that's the same story with him. If he does the same thing he did last year, it's going to compel us to continue to look for other options.""
Now that, is a loaded quote right there.
The team bringing in Blake Sabol in the Rule 5 Draft was one step taken to give other faces time behind the plate. Roberto Pérez's minor league contract that eventually led to him making the Opening Day roster is another.
This is without mentioning the presence of guys like Austin Wynns, Ford Proctor and Patrick Bailey in the minor leagues. The Giants have not been shy about stacking their organization with depth behind the plate, so maybe the Joey Bart Experiment will not continue much longer if he fails to find his footing in the 2023 season.