Patrick Bailey

Giants prospect Patrick Bailey joins Joey Bart in learning first base

Giants prospect Patrick Bailey joins Joey Bart in learning first base

Joey Bart isn't the only Giants top catching prospect learning a new position right now. Add Patrick Bailey, the No. 13 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, right there with Bart. 

Both prospects currently are at the Giants' alternate training site in Sacramento with the minor league season canceled. And both have added a new glove to their gear bags. 

"Basically, Joey and Patrick are on the same kind of routine right now," Kyle Haines, the Giants' director of player development, said to NBC Sports Bay Area over the phone on Wednesday. "Both take ground balls at first. Both are catching a lot, and they've done a nice job of working together and motivating each other."

The Giants' buzz word of choice this year is "versatility." Take a look at their major league roster, and it's full of players that can be moved all over the field. 

Mauricio Dubon might play shortstop, second base and center field all in one game. Wilmer Flores can be slotted anywhere around the infield. The same goes for Donovan Solano. Darin Ruf could go from a first baseman's mitt to an outfielder's glove in a hurry and Austin Slater just defines himself as "right-handed hitter" with all the different roles he has.

That's omitting plenty of players, too. 

Down on the farm, the Giants are looking to groom versatile players as well. That's just part of what made the decision to select Bailey with their top pick in the draft just two years after taking Bart second overall so perplexing. Both prospects only caught in college. That already has changed in Sacramento. 

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Bart, 23, was voted as the best defensive catcher in the California League last season by coaches when he was with the San Jose Giants. Known more for his power potential, Bart does have a rocket of an arm and is athletic behind the dish despite his 6-foot-2, 238-pound frame. But the Giants have made it clear for quite some time now they want him to learn a new position

Bailey, 21, was considered an even better defensive prospect than Bart coming out of NC State. He has a more slender build at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, and his defense has been praised by evaluators since high school. But just like Bart, the Giants want to keep his bat in the lineup once he reaches San Francisco, and make sure he isn't tied to only getting in a squat. 

For now, the two only are learning first base as they continue to grow in their catching duties as well. But crazier things have happened. 

"Right now, no on anywhere outside of catcher and right now just introducing first base," Haines said. "I don't anticipate trying to teach them somewhere else, but I don't think any of us ever expected Travis Ishikawa to play left field in the World Series, so you never know what's gonna happen."

[REALTED: Giants' Bart not expected in Sacramento 'that much longer']

Bart and Bailey easily could have gone about this the wrong way. They played in the same conference in college, battling each other back in 2018. They play the same position, with dreams of one day becoming a star catcher in the big leagues. So far, though, so good. 

What has encouraged Haines the most early on in Sacramento is how the duo has worked together, constantly pushing each other. 

"It's been really fun to see two former ACC rivals coming together, and working as Giants now has been really fun," Haines said. "... It's been fun to see these guys grow together."

The Giants firmly believe Bart and Bailey can co-exist. From Summer Camp at Oracle Park to the alternate site in Sacramento, that's exactly what has happened. If all goes right, they will be in the same Giants lineup in the near future, too.

Where Patrick Bailey ranks among Giants prospects by Baseball America

Where Patrick Bailey ranks among Giants prospects by Baseball America

Once the Giants selected catcher Patrick Bailey with the No. 13 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, fans naturally questioned how he would fit two years after San Francisco took Joey Bart with the second pick in the draft. But I had a different question. 

Where does Bailey fit among Giants top prospects?

The Giants' top four has seemed set in stone since last year's draft. Wherever you look, Marco Luciano, Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop round out the Giants' future. It gets a little questionable after that. 

Bailey, Alexander Canario, Seth Corry and Luis Toribio are seen as the Giants' best prospects behind Bishop. By my guess, I had Bailey sitting somewhere between No. 5 and No. 7. Baseball America released their latest top 30 Giants prospects and they placed the catcher smack dab in the middle at No. 6. 

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By Baseball America's rankings, Bailey is behind Canario but ahead of Toribio (No. 7) and Corry (No. 8).

"The Giants’ first-rounder from the 2020 draft, Bailey brings a powerful, switch-hitting profile along with stellar defense behind the plate," Baseball America's Josh Norris wrote. "Defensively, he’s ahead of where Joey Bart was when he was drafted."

That last part is where things get interesting. The Giants have emphasized that while they believe Bart is advanced as a catcher, they want him to learn another position. Bailey seems more likely to stick behind the dish. 

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has said you can never have too much catching, and that certainly is true. The Giants have learned firsthand that stark reality with Buster Posey opting out of the 2020 season to be with his family and twins he and his wife recently adopted. If they can get Bailey and Bart in the same lineup in the near future, that's a win-win.

[RELATED: Top prospect Luciano excites Giants for his defense, too]

Three other Giants draft picks made the top 30. Left-hander Kyle Harrison, who was a third-round pick, comes in at No. 15, lefty Nick Swiney, taken No. 67 overall with the Madison Bumgarner compensation pick is No. 22 and third baseman/right-handed pitcher Casey Schmitt, a second-round pick, is No. 25.

Baseball America says "there really aren’t many weaknesses in this system," and this year's draft class clearly helps make that true.

Giants' top prospects should usher in bright new era in near future

Giants' top prospects should usher in bright new era in near future

When MLB announced there would be a 60-game season, the projections weren't great for the Giants. Caesar's Sportsbook gave San Francisco the fifth-lowest win total (24.5) in the league, and ZIPS' projection (25) was just slightly better than that.

Realistically, the Giants weren't going to compete. And if they did, it was going to be a major surprise.

That was before Buster Posey made the decision to opt out of the 2020 MLB season on Friday. If San Francisco was going to struggle with him, imagine what it could be like without him.

So, yes, it's understandable if Posey's decision removed what little realistic optimism Giants fans had for this abbreviated season. With everything currently going on in the world, it would be easy to focus on the bad.

San Francisco's present might not offer a ton of hope. But luckily for Giants fans, there is plenty of reason to be excited about the not-too-distant future.

One could argue the Giants' farm system is in as good of a spot as it has ever been. It was identified as one of the five most improved in all of baseball back in January, as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has spearheaded a rapid turnaround. The system is loaded with high-quality prospects, and unlike previous times when pitching was the obvious strength, most of San Francisco's current top prospects are position players.

The Giants know how important pitching is as well as any team in the league. That's how they won three World Series titles in five years. Well, that plus some timely hitting. In the seasons since, though, they've struggled mightily on offense, which has resulted in multiple years of better draft position.

Nothing is guaranteed, but it sure seems like San Francisco has capitalized on the opportunity that was created out of that offensive deficiency and directly addressed it.

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As things currently stand, the Giants have five prospects ranked within MLB Pipeline's Top 100. That's more than they've ever had since MLB.com started ranking prospects.

Catcher Joey Bart leads the way at No. 14 overall, while 18-year-old shortstop Marco Luciano is one of the fastest climbing prospects in all of baseball, currently ranked No. 35. Outfielder Heliot Ramos, a 2017 first-round pick, lands at No. 65, and he's followed by 2019 first-round pick Hunter Bishop at No. 71. Finally, Seth Corry, one of only two pitchers currently ranked among San Francisco's top 10 prospects, comes in at No. 99.

All of those prospects are projected to reach the big leagues at some point during or prior to the 2022 season.

Then there's 20-year-old outfielder Alexander Canario, the Giants' sixth-ranked prospect, who likely just missed being included in the Top 100. It's probably only a matter of time until he is, and he might have the highest offensive ceiling of any prospect not named Luciano within San Francisco's system. 

Canario currently is projected to make his big league debut in 2023, as are 19-year-old third baseman Luis Toribio and 18-year-old outfielder Luis Matos -- the Giants' seventh and eighth-ranked prospects at the moment. Pipeline cites Toribio as possibly being "the best pure hitter" in the system, while Matos was singled out by Giants director of player development Kyle Haines as currently being underrated, but will be heard from down the line.

Filling out the remainder of San Francisco's top 10 prospects are ninth-ranked pitcher Sean Hjelle and 10th-ranked infielder Will Wilson. The 6-foot-11 Hjelle offers tantalizing potential, while getting Wilson -- the Los Angeles Angels' 2019 first-round pick -- at the Winter Meetings was a major steal.

Hjelle and Wilson are projected to make their big league debuts in 2021 and 2022, respectively, while San Francisco's current 11th and 12th-ranked prospects already have. If getting Wilson was a steal, acquiring 11th-ranked Mauricio Dubon was the equivalent of highway robbery. And 12th-ranked Logan Webb has been turning heads -- particularly Posey's -- in Summer Camp.

Many of those prospects, particularly the position players, likely would have been ranked much higher in previous years. But now, the Giants boast depth that most other teams envy.

And, that doesn't even include San Francisco's 2020 first-round pick, Patrick Bailey. As soon as he begins his professional career, the power-hitting catcher likely will fall somewhere between No. 5 and No. 7, inevitably nudging a great prospect out of the Giants' top 10.

So over the next one to three seasons, San Francisco is likely to experience a massive influx of highly-skilled, young talent, something that the franchise has been lacking since ... let's just say it's been a long time. That talent could form the backbone of a team that could contend, not just for one season, but possibly for the next decade. Or, it could be used to acquire a current star.

[RELATED: Posey's decision might make Giants revisit plans for Bart]

The Giants now are in a position where they can compete on a prospect level in any potential trade discussions for an already-established star. Of course, moving forward, they'll also be in far better financial position to compete for top free agents than they have been in recent years -- in which case they wouldn't have to sacrifice any prospects.

So, yes, the 2020 season likely wasn't going to be a very successful one to begin with, and Posey's absence should only exacerbate that. But the Giants' not-too-distant future could be very, very bright, and fans should focus on that whenever in need of some optimism.