Down on the Farm

Giants top prospect Joey Bart set to return after fractured left hand

Giants top prospect Joey Bart set to return after fractured left hand

The last time Joey Bart returned from an injury, the catcher made one thing clear -- he's one of the best prospects in all of baseball. 

Bart's sophomore season was cut short at Georgia Tech after hitting .296 with 13 home runs in 44 games. He missed the team's final 11 games with a broken thumb. 

"I think people kind of made that a huge deal, like it was the biggest deal in the world me breaking my thumb," Bart said on May 29 in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. "I remember I came into the season ready to go, ready to prove myself." 

As a junior, he did exactly what he set out to do. Bart won multiple national honors while hitting .359 with 16 home runs and wound up being taken by the Giants with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. 

Fast forward two years after his broken thumb and Bart, the Giants' No. 1 prospect and top catching prospect in all of baseball, is again looking to show that an injury is only a tiny bump in his road to the show. He fractured the second metacarpal in his left (non-throwing) hand on April 15 after getting hit by a pitch that was oddly called a foul ball.

At the time of his injury, Bart was hitting .270 with two home runs and an .882 OPS in 10 games for the high Single-A San Jose Giants.

After missing 43 games, Bart is set to rejoin the San Jose Giants on Tuesday.

"I’m coming along well, I feel good. It’s kind of up to them, the front office. It could be any day now," Bart said last Wednesday. "I feel ready to go and I’m just excited to get back up to San Jose with the team and win a bunch of games." 

(Photo via Ali Thanawalla)

Once Bart learned the extent of the injury, he put his head down and did whatever it took to get back on a diamond. Within the first few days, he was already on the field, conditioning and working out. He's placed a heavy emphasis on being in the best shape possible and focusing on much more than just his hand.

"That’s been a big priority, just working out and getting in good shape so when I come back, hopefully nothing happens to my body aside from my hand," Bart said. "That’s kind of been the purpose. Keep everything on top and in tip-top shape." 

Bart admits the process hasn't been easy, however. In the beginning, he wanted to push his timeline and get right back on the field. The future wasn't on his mind, all Bart wanted to do was play ball again. 

As he neared his return, he saw the bigger picture. 

"It’s been a little bit of a lengthy process. It wasn’t a very bad fracture, but it was tough," Bart said. "I didn’t want to give in too early. The last couple of weeks, it’s been a lot better compared to the first few weeks. It’s been very encouraging and I shouldn’t be too far out here.

"Now looking at it, I understand that I need to be 100 percent confident in my hand and ready to roll on that first night that [manager Billy Hayes] writes me back into the lineup.

"I’m just really looking forward to getting back."

[RELATED: Watch Heliot Ramos homer in second game back from injury]

The face of the Giants' future has missed the last seven weeks. Never mind that, though. He's about to be back on the field, and for once, this Bart should be on time or well ahead of schedule going to San Francisco.

Watch Heliot Ramos hit two-run homer in second game back from injury

Watch Heliot Ramos hit two-run homer in second game back from injury

It can't get much worse for the Giants.

Every team experiences losing streaks. Falling 11-3 to the worst team in the National League to extend your losing streak to six games is a whole different story, though.

There's light at the end of this tunnel, however, one which might not shine bright until 2021. In San Jose, cover your eyes, the light doesn't get much brighter. 

While Giants top prospect Joey Bart continues to rehab from a fractured hand, No. 2 prospect Heliot Ramos is back on the field for the San Jose Giants in Class A Advanced. In only his second game back from a sprained knee, Ramos already rocketed his team-leading sixth home run. 

Ramos worked a 3-2 count in the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night in San Jose before turning on an inside fastball for a deep two-run blast over the left-field wall. 

The 19-year-old center fielder went 3-for-4 at the plate in the Giants' 9-4 loss to the Lancaster JetHawks. He went 1-for-4 in his first game back the night before, and threw a runner out at third base. 

[RELATED: Giants losing streak just as bad as team's previous ones]

Ramos, the youngest player on the team, is now slashing .296/.429/.620 with six home runs, five doubles and a 1.048 OPS. He leads San Jose in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and OPS despite missing 28 games. 

The Giants hold the No. 10 pick in Monday's MLB draft. The light can't go down much lower in the City right now, but with talents like Ramos and more top picks the next two years, it could be sunglasses season for years to come in San Francisco.

Farhan Zaidi reacts to Giants prospect Logan Webb's PED suspension

Farhan Zaidi reacts to Giants prospect Logan Webb's PED suspension

In a season where the Giants are in last place of the NL West through the first month of year and the team's top two prospects are already on the injured list, Wednesday's news was another punch to the gut. 

Logan Webb, the Giants' No. 2 pitching prospect, was suspended 80 games after testing positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance-enhancing substance. 

"He's a really good kid," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Wednesday night on KNBR. "It's obviously disappointing to see." 

Webb declared his innocence through a statement, saying he doesn't know how the PED entered his system. 

"For the past month and a half I have tried endlessly to find the answer to why the M4 metabolite was found in my urine sample. I have done research, I have talked to people who know a lot more about it than I do, and I have sent in an endless amount of supplements and products for testing that I have used over the past couple years," Webb said. "Unfortunately, none of those things have helped me find that answer, and the time for me to find the reason that this has happened has run out. I know in my heart that something someday will be put into the world to prove my innocence. 

"That being said, I do not disagree with MLB’s policy, and respect the drug testing system that has been put in place. I love this game and respect it too much to ever cheat it. I am heartbroken over this and I am not sure why this is happening to me, but in life some things happen for a reason and it is my job now to find that reason."

Zaidi says Webb was genuine in his stance on the situation when they spoke, and further detailed the testing process. 

"You just don't know what happens with some of these guys -- you don't know what goes into their bodies at certain periods of times," Zaidi said. "Speaking to him and his representation, they genuinely don't know how it happened. My concern with that is we just want to make sure it doesn't happen even if they believe it was something that was without malicious intent or trying to cheat."

As far as Webb's production on the field, the Giants couldn't be happier with the 22-year-old. The right-hander from Rocklin has really impressed the last two seasons. He had a 1.82 ERA over 21 appearances in High-A with the San Jose Giants last year before earning a promotion to Double-A Richmond for his final six starts. 

Through five starts in Double-A this season, he's been nothing short of phenomenal. Webb is 1-2 with a 2.00 ERA and has 31 strikeouts over 27 innings for the Flying Squirrels.

While he won't be with his Richmond teammates for quite some time, the Giants are making sure Webb still gets his work in. 

"As far as development goes, he's gonna go back to Arizona," Zaidi said. "He's allowed to continue to work out at our facility. We are allowed to have him pitch in extended spring training games, which is really nice. He'll be able to stay game ready even before the suspension is over." 

Once his suspension ends, Zaidi and the Giants still have big plans for the former fourth-round draft pick this season. 

[RELATED: How Logan Webb shot up Giants' prospect rankings]

"He'll miss time but he'll at least be able to stay in pitching shape and continue to pitch competitively in games," Zaidi said. "We're hoping that he still has a chance to work his way up to Triple-A by the end of the season."

All Webb and the Giants can do at this point is move forward and get back to work. He's made leaps and bounds the last two seasons on the mound, and that can't stop now.