Joey Bart named No. 1 prospect in Giants' system, cracks Top 50 in MLB

Joey Bart named No. 1 prospect in Giants' system, cracks Top 50 in MLB

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.

Why Giants will have to make even faster evaluations if MLB returns

Why Giants will have to make even faster evaluations if MLB returns

One thing fans learned right away in Farhan Zaidi's first season in charge is that the new-look front office is remarkably fast when it comes to altering the roster. The Giants could move even faster in 2020, though. 

If the season returns in July as hoped, the Giants expect to play 82 games, meaning the long six-month grind is now a bit of a sprint to the finish line. That will have a big impact on roster moves, and during his last appearance on KNBR, manager Gabe Kapler said the staff is already discussing how to handle this, knowing they don't have nearly as much time to evaluate players. 

"We don't necessarily have 82 games to evaluate that and then have another 82 to put the best defense out there," he said. "We actually have to make decisions sooner, we have to evaluate better in this modified camp that we have coming up. So the 82-game schedule absolutely makes us think about the roster construction differently and also about game strategy differently, for sure."

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Kapler mentioned that one discussion going on right now is about center field and right, and which players will be the best options. Even though it might have seemed like Gerardo Parra got a quick hook last year, he did actually play 30 games before being designated for assignment. Yangervis Solarte, another veteran, lasted until May 7.

The Giants seemed set to take a long look at Billy Hamilton this year and potentially break with Darin Ruf in the mix, but if they're looking to stay in the NL West race over half a season, perhaps they'll lean more towards sticking Mike Yastrzemski or Mauricio Dubon in center every day, guaranteeing more consistency for the lineup. 

Dubon is also part of the flip side of this. The front office hoped to give some younger players a few hundred at-bats to sink or swim, but that's not really possible with 82 games. If Dubon struggles early on to stick in his new utility role, that experiment might be halted until 2021. Jaylin Davis might have started the season in Triple-A, but the Giants now won't have that option, and they could run Davis out there every day in right field. But they certainly wouldn't have as many at-bats to play with if Davis gets off to a slow start. 

[RELATED: Giants affiliate lists stadium on Airbnb]

The rotation will be impacted, too. Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly have been viewed as potential 2020 versions of Drew Pomeranz, but Pomeranz struggled quite a bit before he was moved to the bullpen, where he became a good trade chip. That first relief appearance, though, didn't come until the Giants had played 101 games. There won't be nearly as much time to evaluate the pitchers who came in on one-year contracts. 

There are going to be a lot of wrinkles to an 82-game season, and this is an added one. The Giants made quick evaluations last season compared to what fans have gotten used to, but they're still going to need to pick up the pace if the game returns. 

Giants' minor league affiliate to allow fans to rent stadium on Airbnb

Giants' minor league affiliate to allow fans to rent stadium on Airbnb

Have you ever wanted to field grounders on the same patch of dirt as Brandon Crawford? Or hit in the cage that Buster Posey has used to hone his swing? If you have a little disposable income, and an easy way to get to Oregon this summer, a Giants minor league affiliate is trying to make those dreams come true. 

With the minor league season almost certainly canceled, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes found a creative way to make use of their stadium in Keizer, Oregon, a small town south of Portland. They listed it on Airbnb. 

For $1,000 a night, individuals or groups can stay in the ballpark of the short-season affiliate that was home to Posey and Crawford in 2008, Tim Lincecum in 2006 and more than 100 other big leaguers over the years. Last year, Hunter Bishop and Marco Luciano were among the prospects who spent time in Salem-Keizer. 

The listing says you'll have full access to the clubhouse and training facility, which includes four indoor cages and pitching machines. You will also have use of the field and batting practice can be set up. The Volcanoes offered to supply cots for overnight guests, or you can bring sleeping bags to set up somewhere in the ballpark. Oh, and this is important: The park has WiFi. 

[RELATED: Giants coaches ready for shortened season]

The Volcanoes are offering dates throughout the summer with the caveat that bookings could be impacted by games. That's extremely unlikely, though. MLB organizations do not expect to hold a normal minor league season, and the Volcanoes also are unfortunately at risk if MLB follows through with a plan to cut 42 minor league teams permanently. 

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