Down on the Farm: Giants top pick Joey Bart and the art of the home run

Down on the Farm: Giants top pick Joey Bart and the art of the home run

The life of a catcher is as cruel and physically taxing as it gets for a baseball player. The life of over 7,300 innings getting in and out of the squat all while being tasked as your team's top bat is downright exhausting. On Monday night against the Cubs, Buster Posey took a rocket of a foul ball straight back, right off his mask. Two pitches later, the inning was over and Posey was leading off the bottom half of the inning for the Giants. 

Catchers are a rare bread of genius with the perfect sprinkle of insanity. 

When the Giants drafted Joey Bart, a catcher out of Georgia Tech, with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, they certainly selected the player they deemed the most talented. There's no denying the front office saw the writing on the wall, too. After being selected to his sixth All-Star Game, Posey is set to miss the Midsummer Classic due to a hip injury

On the same day of Posey's injury news, Bart was busy bashing the ball for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The 21-year-old hit a grand slam, his fourth home run in five games with the Volcanoes, or one less than Posey has in 76 games this season.

Bart was promoted to Salem-Keizer on the Fourth of July and brought instant fireworks with two home runs and four RBI. He went hitless the next two games before going 3-for-4 with a home run on July 8 and then the grand slam on July 9. He is batting .304 with a 1.203 OPS for the Volcanoes. 

"I want to stay in my hitting zone and do some damage and have fun," Bart said to after his Salem-Keizer debut. 

At Georgia Tech, Bart went from one home run as a freshman, to 13 as a sophomore and 16 as a junior. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Bart has plus raw power that translates well to a wood bat. 

From the outside, it is easy to see Bart as the heir to Posey's backstop throne in San Francisco. The real intrigue with Bart though, who could be a quick riser through the minor leagues, is that he may be the right-handed power bat the Giants, ranked 24th in home runs this season, badly need at AT&T Park. 

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

SAN FRANCISCO — The clubhouse cleared out quickly after Sunday’s games. Players are always in a rush to get to flights home after the final game of the first half, but you have a bit more urgency in your step when you’re trying to leave a couple losses behind.

There is one member of the clubhouse, though, who will not soon forget the way the Giants lost 6-2 to the A’s in their first-half finale. Bruce Bochy watched a lineup that looked tired and incapable of backing a suddenly sturdy staff. Afterward, he promised to spend the next four days pondering some solutions.

“That’s what I’m going to sit on here the next four days — if they need more breaks,” Bochy said. “We’ll think of things to keep them fresher and sharper.”

The team that faced Sean Manaea on Sunday looked very much in need of a break. The Giants had five scattered hits and a performance that would have looked right at home in last season’s first half. Bochy said he saw some tired bats, and the numbers this month look all too familiar, in the wrong way. The Giants have just six homers in July, the least in the Majors, after showing increased power early in the season.

Two have come from Chase d’Arnaud and Pablo Sandoval, fill-ins for Evan Longoria. Alen Hanson and Gorkys Hernandez have the others. That’s not exactly how they drew this up. Bochy cut off a question about the backups having all the power this month.

“Oh I’m well aware of that,” he said, laughing.

Andrew McCutchen doesn’t have an extra-base hit this month, continuing a frustrating first season in San Francisco. Brandon Belt has three doubles but nothing more in July. Buster Posey also has three doubles and Brandon Crawford has a pair. Bochy is pleased with the additions of guys like d’Arnaud, Hanson and Steven Duggar, Sandoval’s improvements and Hernandez’s breakouts, but he knows he needs his big guns down the stretch.

“That’s what we’re missing as much as anything is power,” he said. “Not just homers — we’re not driving the ball like I think we can.”

The staff is hopeful that four days off will help. It’s not like the Giants have a tough travel schedule in front of them. They’ll regroup on Thursday in Oakland for a workout and then play three more in the East Bay, where most of this roster lives. After that it’s a day off and two in Seattle, and then it’s back home.

Bochy revealed that Dereck Rodriguez will get the opener in Oakland, followed by Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Andrew Suarez. Jeff Samardzija, placed on the DL on Sunday, is a possibility for the fifth spot, although Derek Holland seems far more likely.

Rodriguez got the nod in part to break up the lefties and righties, but also as a reward for the good work he has done. He has been a revelation, helping the Giants stay above water. Even after losing two straight to the A’s, the Giants finished the first half at 50-48 and just four games behind the Dodgers in the National League West.

A year ago at the break, this club was 34-56 and 27 games out of first place.

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's


SAN FRANCISCO -- There were many positives in the first half for the Giants, but the All-Star break came with a whimper. 

The lineup scattered five hits, Andrew Suarez had a rare dud, and the Giants fell 6-2 to the A's in the third game of this six-game set. They've lost two straight after a good win on Friday night and enter the break with a 50-48 record and in fourth place in the National League West. 

Here's what you need to know from "Don't Miss Your Red-eye Flight" Day... 

--- Suarez was cruising through his final start of the half before the wheels came off in the fourth. Suarez didn’t allow a hit to that point, but Jed Lowrie walked with one out and the A’s followed with four consecutive singles. A sacrifice fly capped the four-run inning. Suarez gave up four earned in five innings, walking two and striking out five. He had allowed four total runs in his four previous starts. 

--- Because of all his injuries, Ray Black often wasn’t allowed to pitch back-to-back days in the minor leagues. Bruce Bochy tested him Sunday, sending him out for the seventh a few hours after Black got a couple outs in relief of Tony Watson. Black easily handled the test, striking out two and getting a pop-up to center. His fastball was down a tick… to 97. 

--- Chase d’Arnaud hit a solo shot, his second since being called up. The veteran is tied with Pablo Sandoval for the team lead in homers in July. That’s nice for d’Arnaud, not so great for this offense. The Giants have just six homers this month.