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Bart, Webb give Giants a glimpse of very bright future

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USA Today

Late in a media session Thursday to explain the promotion of Joey Bart, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was asked if Heliot Ramos might be next. The conventional wisdom is that Bart is the first of many future stars to arrive at Oracle Park, with Ramos on the way soon, and Marco Luciano, Hunter Bishop, Alexander Canario and others following. 

That's not totally true, though. We might look back five or six years from now and remember Bart as being a trailblazer for the next great Giants team, but it's possible that he'll be viewed as the second to arrive. Logan Webb got here last year, and like Bart, Webb is just 23. While he has never been at the top of prospect lists, the Giants always believed Webb was undervalued by evaluators and that he has top-of-the-rotation potential. He showed that Friday. 

Working with Bart for the first time at the big league level, Webb threw a career-high seven innings and got past 100 pitches for the first time. He struck out eight and cruised through his later innings as the Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 to win a fourth straight. 

It was a big win for a team sneaking back into the Wild Card race. It was also a glimpse of the future. Webb is just 27 days older than Bart. 

"He's pretty good, huh?" Webb said, smiling. "I've known Joey for the last two years and he's one of the biggest competitors. He's fun to watch and it's fun to work with him. He's going to be a special player."

 

Webb has had a solid start to his second year, entering with a 3.54 ERA in five starts. But he had thrown just 20 1/3 innings because of inefficient innings, and he needed 43 pitches to get through the first two Friday. Something clicked, though, and Webb started pounding the zone with a good fastball-changeup combination. Before he knew it, he was getting outs in the seventh for the first time as a big leaguer. 

Webb said Bart brought a different approach, encouraging him to attack with his fastball and keep attacking. Of Webb's 102 pitches, 55 were fastballs and 34 were changeups that played off of the heater. 

"It's something me and Joey talked about," Webb said. "It's something he likes to do."

In the dugout, manager Gabe Kapler and his coaches watched Webb pitch to contact and realize it was working for him.

"He started to get into the zone and look for the contact and got early contact," Kapler said. "I think he really learned that it doesn't hurt him. His stuff is good enough that he can just attack with it."

The staff watched another young player stand out, too. While the Giants pulled away because of Evan Longoria's 300th homer and Wilmer Flores' third in three games, it was Bart's walk late in the game that had Kapler buzzing about the future. The Diamondbacks had intentionally walked Alex Dickerson ahead of Bart, who proceeded to have a calm 10-pitch plate appearance on his second night in the big leagues and draw a walk that forced in a run. As Bart was fouling off pitches and taking close ones, Kapler turned to bench coach Kai Correa and said "no matter what happens here, this is a story."

"I thought Joey's at-bat after the intentional walk to Dickerson was really an important moment," Kapler said. "It was so professional and he never got out of control. It wasn't like, oh, there's this intentional walk issued in front of me, so now I have to do more. It was actually just as calm as everything else as he's been doing. That was really promising."

It was the kind of plate appearance that makes you feel good about predicting a young slugger will have a long career. Longoria was that type of player when he was a rookie, too, and in his 13th year in the big leagues, he became the 150th big leaguer to hit 300 homers.

[RELATED: Longoria crushes 300th homer of career]

Longoria has gotten this far with a good approach at the plate. He said he saw the same from Bart, who also doubled off the right field wall, noting that most young hitters might come out of their strike zone and swing at poor pitches after an intentional walk to load the bases. Bart was as calm as ever. 

 

"He's got an opportunity to be pretty special," Longoria said.