Down on the Farm

Why Giants prospect Joey Bart's first big league camp is 'invaluable'

Why Giants prospect Joey Bart's first big league camp is 'invaluable'

Joey Bart is expected to start the 2019 season in Advanced Single-A, but in spring training, the Giants' top prospect will be with the big league club. 

The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft was one of 18 non-roster invitees to Giants big league camp. He should see plenty of action, but the best lessons for the 22-year-old could come outside of game action. 

"There's a whole culture about baseball that you have to learn," Mike Krukow said Thursday on KNBR. "It's more than just learning how to hit and throw and catch. You've gotta learn how to deal with the press. Learn where the good restaurants are in Scottsdale. It's all part of the education." 

Speaking of education, Bart will spend every moment he can next to Buster Posey in the desert. From picking his brain to watching the way he goes about his business, the young catcher will try to soak in as much knowledge as possible from the man the Giants hope he one day replaces. 

[RELATED: 2019 Giants Position Preview: Question marks behind Buster Posey]

Every year, Madison Bumgarner always throws at least one bullpen with a young catcher, and it's a guarantee he'll get behind the dish at least once for the ace.

"For a guy who has that much promise, I think it's invaluable," Krukow said. 

Bart's first taste of big league camp will be both a learning experience and a showcase for his potential. As Posey recovers from hip surgery, and no other established big league catcher on the roster, the prospect can take full advantage of his opportunity. 

How Logan Webb shot up Giants' prospect rankings through the weight room

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Photo via Richie Anderson

How Logan Webb shot up Giants' prospect rankings through the weight room

The NFL has almost a year's worth of mock drafts. The NBA has viral one-and-done stars joining their league as teenagers. Baseball is a game with a longer view, where we have to guess who will be the stars not of tomorrow, but years from now after going through the wringer of the minor leagues. 

Enter, the obsession over prospect rankings. 

Before spring training every year, the likes of Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and more release lists for the top prospects in the game. Continuing a trend they hope to buck soon, the Giants are once again nowhere near the top of the best farm systems in MLB. Outside of Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, you won't find another Giants prospect among the experts' top 100. 

Within the Giants organization, though, there's a rising prospect the front office first saw at Rocklin High School, two hours away from Oracle Park.

"My dad likes looking at that stuff, but it doesn’t mean much to me," pitcher Logan Webb said when asked about prospect rankings in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.

Webb, 22, entered the 2018 season outside of the Giants' top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America. Going into the 2019 season, however, he has catapulted up to the No. 6 prospect in San Francisco's farm system.

How did he jump into the top 10 that quickly? It all starts with a mindset change after he underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2016 season. 

After only nine starts and a 6.21 ERA at Class A Augusta, Webb went under the knife in June of that season. It's a procedure no pitcher hopes to endure, but one that changed his outlet and mentality when it comes to his body. 

"The best way to put it is almost a blessing in disguise," Webb said. "It gave me a year to really work on my body, to get the right mechanics, and get my arm to where it should be. It was obviously tough — just the mental part of it. It was a great thing for me to have, honestly."

Richie Anderson, Webb's trainer at Results Physical Therapy and Training Center in Sacramento, agreed. 

"He did a big 180," Anderson said. "It’s probably the best thing to happen for him — to take a step back and realize the things he had to get done." 

Both the pitcher and the trainer stated Webb wasn't a big weight room guy before the surgery. Anderson has worked with him ever since the surgery and now calls Webb a "gym rat" and "student" of the body. 

"I think I just became more committed to my body and I learned so much stuff that goes into it," Webb said. "After I learned about all this stuff, I just love being in the gym. Working out with all the guys is awesome. I kind of just take that mentality that I got from rehab."

Once Anderson received the green light during Webb's rehab, he had the pitcher begin to do lower body exercises that didn't require any stress on the elbow. Biomechanically, everything starts from the ground up.

"When I was drafted, I was 185 (pounds) I think," Webb said. "Now I’m like 222 right now. I think that has a lot to do with my legs getting a lot stronger and a lot bigger." 

Since the two started training, they have focused on single-leg exercises and unilateral movements. Absorbing force in your lead leg correlates to higher velocity, Anderson explained, and Webb is someone who can light the radar gun up at 97 mph. 

Webb returned to the mound on June 15, 2017, slightly one year after surgery. Right away, the work in the weight room was seen on the mound. He went 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched a Short-Season Single-A. 

The moment the season ended, he was back in the weight room. 

"He progressed leaps and bounds," Anderson said. "We were pretty limited the year before coming off surgery, but 2017, going into 2018, he crushed it. He looked better than he ever had." 

The same can be said for how pitched in 2018.

Webb dominated Advanced Single-A as a member of the San Jose Giants, posting a 1.82 ERA in 21 appearances (20 starts). His performance earned him a promotion to Double-A for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, where he had a solid 3.82 ERA in six starts. He finished 2018 with a 2.41 ERA over 104.2 innings pitched. 

After his highly successful year, strengthening his legs was once again the main focus for Webb heading into this current offseason. The Giants had him on an innings limit in 2018 and many of his starts were only three or four innings. 

"I wanted to prepare myself for a bigger workload this year," Webb said. "It got frustrating at times, but it’s for a good reason to benefit me. This year, I’m sure I’ll have some sort of limit. I’m not sure what it will be, but it will definitely be more innings with my starts. I don’t think I’ll be throwing three innings in a start.”

In order to build stamina for this increased workload -- you guessed it -- Webb hit the weight room. His favorite workout is the barbell hip thrust, which correlates to a pitching motion and involves hip flexion and extension.

Another area of his game that Webb wanted to focus on this offseason was getting through his backside on each pitch to improve his command. Before airing it out, usually with fellow Giants pitching prospect Jordan Johnson, Webb would go through a progression of throwing weighted balls against the wall. 

Webb is also developing a changeup this offseason, and the soft plyocare ball gave him the ability to really feel the flight out of his hand. 

The Giants added Webb to the 40-man roster in November. He flew to Arizona on Jan. 10 to get acclimated to the surroundings he'll face in his first big league camp. 

For 2019, Webb's goals have nothing to do with where he'll wind up after spring training.

Double-A Richmond? Triple-A Sacramento? A September call-up to San Francisco? That's out of his hands. 

"My goal is really to go longer in my outings and really give my team the best chance to win," Webb said. "I don’t really have a choice in where I go or where I end up, so I’m just gonna go in there, give it all I got and hopefully force a hand. 

"No matter where I end, just be happy with where I started and how I finished." 

But now that Webb is healthy and hitting the weight room, he's putting up numbers that may have him in pitching in Oracle Park sooner rather than later.

Giants' Joey Bart named No. 29 prospect in Baseball America's Top 100

Giants' Joey Bart named No. 29 prospect in Baseball America's Top 100

The honors keep coming for Joey Bart. On Wednesday, Baseball America's annual Top 100 MLB prospects list entering the 2019 season was unveiled, and Bart was the lone Giants prospect to be named. 

Bart, the Giants' top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, is Baseball America's No. 29 overall prospect. The outlet calls Bart "an excellent defensive catcher with big power" and says "Bart is the heir apparent to Buster Posey in San Francisco." 

The latest recognition for Bart comes a week after MLB Pipeline named Bart the top catching prospect in baseball and the Giants' best defensive prospect.

Following the draft, Bart spent six games in the Arizona Rookie League before he burst on the scene for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Class A Short Season). He hit .333 with nine home runs, 24 RBI and a 1.126 OPS in his first month in Oregon. 

While Bart made the list, the Giants lost a prospect from Baseball America's Top 100. Heliot Ramos, the team's top pick in 2017, came in at No. 79 before the 2018 season, but a disappointing year saw him drop off. 

Ramos, 19, hit .245 with 11 home runs, eight triples and 24 doubles for the Augusta GreenJackets (Class A) last season. Both he and Bart are expected to start the 2019 season at Advanced Single-A with the San Jose Giants

As the Giants look to climb out of the bottom of the NL West, their future is certainly looking much brighter thanks to the star potential of Bart and youth of Ramos.