Less than two months after going No. 2 overall to the San Francisco Giants in the 2018 MLB Draft, catcher Joey Bart is officially the team’s No. 1 overall prospect according Baseball America’s rankings. He has also been named the No. 39 overall prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America, the lone Giants prospect in the top 100. Since starting his minor league career, Bart has shown his ability to be a future star, erupting at the plate and fitting his Volcanoes mascot in Salem-Keizer.
The 21-year-old has appeared in 15 games for the Short Season Class A Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. In that span, he is hitting .313 with a 1.062 OPS, seven home runs, five doubles and 18 RBI. Behind the dish, Bart has thrown out four of 11 attempted base stealers in Salem-Keizer while committing two errors. He’s also flashed his strong arm with heads-up plays like this:
Catchers often take longer to develop than most as they play the role of quarterback on the field and take a physical toll each game they get in the squat. Bart, however, has a bit of an advantage. Most catchers at the collegiate level have to rely on the head coach or the pitching coach to call the game for them. At Georgia Tech, head coach Danny Hall trusted Bart so much that he let him call games for the Yellow Jackets his junior year. Not even four-time All-Star Matt Wieters was given the freedom to call pitches while playing at Georgia Tech.
The time Bart arrives in San Francisco could be the perfect situation for the Giants. Teams draft for talent over need, and in this case, the Giants accomplished both.
Buster Posey is under control through 2021 when he will be 34 years old. Expect Bart to arrive in 2020 or 2021 at the latest as he looks like a fast riser through the farm system and the need at that point to move Posey to a position of less demand on his body.
The Giants have their long-term solution behind the dish to replace an all-time great and future Hall of Famer. And the future could come sooner than later. Standing 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Bart brings the power of a right-handed bat the Giants badly need with the ability to stay behind the dish for the foreseeable future.
Risers and Fallers of the farm system:
The Giants made a big splash on the international market by signing 16-year-old shortstop Marco Luciano for $2.6 million. Luciano was ranked the No. 2 international prospect by Baseball America and is now the Giants No. 3 overall prospect. He has speed, power and athleticism, making his progression fun to watch for years to come.
Bart being named the team’s No. 1 prospect makes Heliot Ramos the new No. 2. Ramos, the Giants’ top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, is hitting just .243 with eight home runs, 20 doubles, and a .703 OPS for the Augusta GreenJackets. Never forget how young Ramos is though at 18 years old with real five-tool potential if he works on his eye at the plate and his habit of swinging and missing all too much.
After selecting Bart No. 2 overall, the Giants went with 6-foot-11 pitcher Sean Hjelle at No. 45 in the second round. Hjelle comes in as the Giants’ No. 4 overall prospect and is off to a great start. The Giants are keeping him on a strict innings limit, but in four games for Salem-Keizer, Hjelle has only allowed one run, the lone outing Bart did not catch him.
Former first-round pick Tyler Beede is no longer a top 10 prospect for the Giants. Beede, who made his major league debut this season and struggled, has been moved to the bullpen in Triple-A Sacramento. Between starting and relieving, Beede is 4-8 with a 6.92 ERA for the River Cats. Command continues to be an issue with 53 walks in 65 innings (7.3 walks per nine innings) and a 1.91 WHIP. The Giants certainly hope they can still turn around the once promising arm into an asset as he is still only 25 years old.