It's not at all unusual for a top prospect to have a lot of fans on the big league coaching staff before he ever takes a professional at-bat, but the way Patrick Bailey is doing it is a new one.
The Giants took Bailey with the 13th overall pick in last June's draft, and because there was no minor league season, they immediately added him to their roster for Spring Training 2.0 and then the alternate site in Sacramento. Bailey impressed coaches and evaluators at both spots, and has continued to make progress this spring. Asked about Bailey earlier this week, manager Gabe Kapler gave a glowing scouting report.
"I think his intelligence level and his ability to slow the game down is interesting and in some cases rare for a player of his experience level and age," Kapler said. "It just doesn't move fast for him. We can give him feedback in-game and he's able to apply it. That's true in live BP settings, it's true in game settings, and it's true in bullpen settings. He can take instruction and he can take feedback really well in real time, which I think is a good quality for a young catcher."
Bailey was viewed as an advanced receiver and game-caller coming out of NC State, part of the reason the Giants took him even though they already had Joey Bart in the system and Buster Posey at the big league level. They're also big believers in his ability to hit from both sides, and this spring Bailey has been working on elevating the ball more. He has just 11 plate appearances in Cactus League action, with one hit, three walks and four strikeouts.
"We continue to see him work on his approach getting the ball in the air to the pull side, particularly from the left-handed batter's box," Kapler said.
The Giants haven't yet said where Bailey will start his first professional season, although it wouldn't be a surprise to see 21-year-old follow Bart's path from 2019, beginning in High-A and then hitting his way to Double-A. Long term, the Giants still hope to have both young catchers in the big leagues together, forming an imposing duo.
Bailey has a way to go, starting with playing in a professional game that counts. But through two very different camps, the Giants feel good about their pick last summer.
"He's been impressive so far," Kapler said.