The Giants have been careful not to publicly make any declarations about Joey Bart's timeline, but as one of their top two prospects went through a few weeks of spring action with the big league club, it wasn't hard to picture Bart tearing into Triple-A pitching for a couple of months and then debuting at Oracle Park sometime in late May or June.
That delayed path, allowing Bart to get more minor league reps, is no longer possible in 2020, but it doesn't sound like that will change plans too much. There was some thought that Bart could make sense on an expanded roster that includes a DH, but on this week's Giants Insider Podcast, manager Gabe Kapler pumped the brakes on the possibility of Bart being on the Opening Day roster.
"I have no doubt that he has the talent to help us win games this summer," Kapler said. "Do I think that it's likely that his best path to his best career is starting with the major league club? I don't think that's his best path. I think there are other ways to get to the ultimate goal, which is to have him make an impact on the San Francisco Giants roster for 10 years.
[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
"I think that we really have to keep the long view in mind here. There's no doubt that he's talented enough to help. I don't know if that right time is at the very beginning of the season in 2020."
Bart, ranked 34th on Baseball-America's latest top 100 prospects list, has played just 130 minor league games since being taken second overall in the 2018 draft. He twice suffered hand injuries last season after getting hit by pitches, but when he was on the field, he showed his potential. Bart had a .824 OPS and 16 homers across two levels and then tore up the Arizona Fall League, posting a .524 on-base percentage and slugging .767 in 10 games before an inside pitch fractured his thumb. This spring, he was 7-for-16 with two homers.
Bart reached Double-A last season and the plan was to start him with Triple-A Sacramento. The Giants will now send their taxi squad there after holding a second spring training at Oracle Park, and Bart will be part of that group. The Giants then would in theory decide between Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman for the backup catcher job, although they have talked of carrying three at some point this season.
Three members of the taxi squad can travel with the club, but one must be a catcher. Regardless of whether Bart gets that spot, he could still debut with the Giants this season. The expectation is that many members of the taxi squad ultimately will see time on the active roster.