SAN FRANCISCO -- The surprise was not that Joey Bart won the Barney Nugent Award, it was that he was still around to accept it in person.
Bart, the organization's top prospect, is still in camp as a first-timer as the Giants look to get him as much experience behind the plate as they can before he joins High-A San Jose for the start of the year. In his first spring, Bart has seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412), with a homer, two doubles and a team-leading seven RBI.
He drove in three runs in the ninth inning against the Dodgers last week on a bases-loaded double off the right field wall.
The Barney Nugent Award is given annually to the player who performs best in his first big league camp. In addition to the on-field work, Bart has impressed staff members and fellow players with a quiet dedication to getting better every day, and he has tried to pick up as much as he can from Buster Posey, the man he may one day replace.
"I thought we had some guys that were here that did a really nice job as well, some guys that are down in the Minor League side," Bart said, according to MLB.com. "For these guys to vote for me, it means a lot."
The Giants expect Bart to start the season in High-A, but last year's No. 2 pick should move on to Double-A Richmond relatively quickly. It would not at all be a surprise to see Bart finish his minor league season in Triple-A, and if he continues to show the approach that he has over the last month, he could put himself in consideration for a September call-up.
For now, he'll get a few more days to soak up knowledge in camp. The Giants have viewed that as more beneficial than a few extra at-bats on the minor league side.
Past winners of the Barney Nugent Award, formerly known as the Harry K. Jordan Award, include Tim Lincecum, Brandon Belt and Matt Duffy.