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.

MLB rumors: Giants are still 'in the picture' to sign Bryce Harper

MLB rumors: Giants are still 'in the picture' to sign Bryce Harper

If Bryce Harper hasn't signed by the time you sit down for dinner tonight, in the words of Ace Ventura:

Just wait longer.

The first major free agency domino fell Tuesday morning with the San Diego Padres reportedly giving Manny Machado a 10-year, $300 million contract, setting the table for Harper to sign shortly thereafter.

Or so we thought.

Harper eventually will sign somewhere, but it won't be with Machado in San Diego, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Now, for that last little bit ...

"In the picture." OK. Is that the foreground, or the background? The red, or the white?

(I can never remember that).

Harper is widely expected to command a salary that exceeds Machado's, and thus far, the Giants have given no indication that they are willing to approach anything close to upwards of $300 million.

Still, the NL West just added another superstar, to a team with one of the best young cores in the league. The Dodgers show no signs of slowing down, and both the Diamondbacks and the Rockies are liable to surprise within any given season.

Could Tuesday's developments compel Farhan Zaidi and the Giants' brass to change course and offer Harper a huge number? After Machado got $300 million, that's assuredly what it would take.

[RELATED: Giants react to Machado's reported agreement with Padres]

We don't know how far out the Giants are on the periphery of the Harper picture, but at the very least, it appears they're still in the running, to some degree.

When Harper puts pen to paper is anyone's guess. It might be minutes. It might be hours. Heck, Harper could take the first two months off and show up in June. The baseball season is plenty long enough, as is.

Need some help passing the time?

Might I suggest an extremely quotable movie.

Giants react to Manny Machado reportedly agreeing to contract with Padres

Giants react to Manny Machado reportedly agreeing to contract with Padres

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Five minutes after the Giants took the field on Tuesday morning, their path to the postseason in 2019 got a bit steeper, as the news leaked out that the San Diego Padres were reportedly adding Manny Machado. 

Machado will reportedly get $300 million over 10 years, adding a superstar to an organization that has the best farm system in the majors and is expected to jump back into contention as soon as next year. 

The first reaction from one Giants person on the field was to mutter, "Wow, really?"

The second reaction: "What will Harper get now?"

Harper figures to easily get more than $300 million now after a winter spent wondering which superstar would snag the record deal. The Giants have been involved, but not nearly at that level. If they feel pressure to counteract the move from a division rival, it hasn't shown. At a media event for managers and team executives, Farhan Zaidi said he doesn't feel he must keep up when a team in the division strikes like the Padres did.

"I don't think it really changes how we're viewing our team and what we might still do to it, especially when you start talking about the context of a move that might not be just about 2019, but might be a move that impacts your roster five years or 10 years out," Zaidi said. "You want to make sure you're making the right decision for your organization and not doing it in a reactionary way."

It would be a stunner if the Giants went anywhere near those kinds of figures in their bid to get Harper, but they continue to look at free agent and trade options, Zaidi said. The projection systems had them about on par with the Padres before the Machado move, but this certainly shakes it up. 

[RELATED: Where Harper market stands after Machado-Padres agreement]

The Dodgers remain the clear favorite in the NL West and the Rockies have been far ahead of the Giants the last couple of years. But the Padres could soon be a problem. At the very least, Tuesday’s move signaled a desire to accelerate their rebuild. 

"He's like Harper -- they're great players and they're going to sign somewhere," manager Bruce Bochy said of Machado. "He's going to make them a better team. I think any time you get an impact player like that signing with a team in your division, sure, no question, it makes them tougher. Those guys are difference-makers."