Giants

Giants' Joey Bart named top catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline

Giants' Joey Bart named top catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline

For what has been a desolate farm system in recent years, the Giants finally have an elite prospect.

Catcher Joey Bart is perhaps the Giants best prospect since Buster Posey, and so far he's following in Posey's footsteps. 

Bart, the Giants' top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft at No. 2 overall, has been named the best catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline of MLB.com. The honor comes less than two weeks after Bart was named the team's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America

The recently-turned 22-year-old packs the kind of power the Giants have been badly lacking. Bart combined for 29 home runs between his sophomore and junior years at Georgia Tech and his knack for the long ball followed him to the minor leagues. 

After starting off slow with six games in the Arizona Rookie League, Bart was sent to Salem-Keizer (Short-Season Class A) and took the league by storm.

In his first month with the Volcanoes, Bart hit nine home runs through 21 games in July with a 1.126 OPS. He understandably slowed down after a long year of college ball plus 51 games in the minors, but overall, Bart hit .294 with 13 home runs and a .925 OPS between the two levels. 

[RELATED: Brian Sabean sees 'very bright futures' for Giants top two prospects]

As the top catching prospect in the game, Bart has also been tapped with the best power by any minor leaguer behind the dish. On the 20/80 scouting scale, he is a 60 by MLB Pipeline's measure. 

What's most impressive with Bart's bat is his power to all fields. He routinely launches home runs and extra-base hits to the opposite field and has an easy approach at the plate.

The only downside to Bart's offense so far is his strikeout rate -- 23 percent in the minors and 25 percent his final year in college. But the Giants will easily take that with the home runs he can pull at Oracle Park. 

Bart is slated to skip the Augusta GreenJackets and start the 2019 season with Heliot Ramos on the San Jose Giants in Advanced Single-A.

Even if they move him along slower than Posey, it's not inconceivable to see him in San Francisco at some point in 2020.

Bruce Bochy says Steven Duggar will get look as Giants' leadoff hitter

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Bruce Bochy says Steven Duggar will get look as Giants' leadoff hitter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Another day, another addition.

This time it’s Yangervis Solarte, and the former Padres and Blue Jays infielder has a good shot at making the roster. Here’s my story from this morning on Solarte, who still needs to pass his physical.

Solarte and Bruce Bochy spoke on the phone yesterday and the manager is psyched about the addition. He said Solarte will mostly play second and third, but Bochy liked what he saw of him at short in San Diego and that phone conversation included some discussion of playing left field.

Solarte even told the Giants he would be fine with center, but that ain't happening. 

“We’re excited to have him,” Bochy said. “We saw a lot of him in San Diego. A good player, can play a lot of positions, a switch-hitter. He’s a nice addition.”

Here are some more observations from Day 3: 

New Leadoff Hitter?

Steven Duggar (shoulder) and Ryder Jones (knee) took on-field batting practice for the first time since having surgery. Both looked good and shouldn’t face too many restrictions this spring.

As Bochy watched Duggar, he found himself thinking about the lineup. He said he hopes to have Duggar in one of the top two spots. 

“You look at the top of the order. That’s the first spot you think about,” Bochy said. “How it’s going and how they’re playing will dictate it but I think he’s a good leadoff hitter.”

Jersey Crunch

The Giants have retired so many numbers and have so many players in camp that they’re running out of numbers. So, Trevor Gott, who has big league experience, is currently wearing No. 91. And when the Giants signed a flood of veterans over the past week, some familiar numbers were given away.

Gerardo Parra will wear No. 8, formerly Hunter Pence’s number, and Rene Rivera will wear Matt Cain’s 18 if he’s on the roster. The clubhouse staff did agonize over all this as many fans do, but there was no other way. The only low numbers that remain are 5 and 22.

[RELATED: Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper]

Parra wore 8 with the Rockies and Rivera has mostly worn 44, which isn’t an option here obviously. 

Don’t Mess With Bumgarner

That’s the main thing we were reminded of today. Maybe he was imagining Yasiel Puig coming down the line?

Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper

Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For every move the Giants have made over the past week, the response from an anxious fan base has been the same.

“Uhhh, that dude isn’t Bryce Harper.”

The biggest name on the market remains on the market, but what do the Giants do if Harper chooses the Phillies or Nationals or Padres or some mystery team? Farhan Zaidi is working on Plan B, too, and that could involve remaining free agents or trades. The Giants do still need help in their outfield. 

“We’ve had trade conversations with teams about certain players that started in 2018 that kind of are continuing now,” Zaidi said. “It’s a little bit of a function of the slow market. I think with anything that’s a hypothetical, it’s a good idea to have alternatives and not put all your eggs in any one basket.”

The Giants won’t reach into any other basket until Harper has made a decision. There’s no available player that would match that production, but this offseason started with more humble goals and there are plenty of options on the trade market. If the Giants don’t get Harper, they seem well positioned to quickly pivot. 

In the meantime, Zaidi is padding out the rest of the roster. All offseason, he said he wanted catching depth. Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera signed in the span of four days. Zaidi wanted a versatile infield piece, too, and Yangervis Solarte is on his way. He wanted a couple of outfielders, and Gerardo Parra fills one hole. 

[RELATED: Cueto drops 20 pounds, prepares for big step in rehab]

Zaidi will always tinker. That’s his nature. But he doesn’t want to add too many more players on non-roster deals because he wants the recent additions and the younger players in-house already to have a real opportunity to compete this spring. That was promised to the players already here, so don’t expect too many more who fit the mold of a Parra or Solarte. 

“We want competition but don’t want this to be a reality show or tryout camp,” Zaidi said. “You try to draw the line between feeling good about the guys you have but also not going overboard.”