SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday, the San Francisco Giants signed Georgia Tech catcher and No. 2 overall pick Joey Bart to a $7.025 million bonus. Emphasis on catcher.Bart, the Giants' highest pick since Will Clark was selected second overall in 1985, possesses the athleticism and versatility to play around the field.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunday, the San Francisco Giants signed Georgia Tech catcher and No. 2 overall pick Joey Bart to a $7.025 million bonus. Emphasis on catcher.
Bart, the Giants' highest pick since Will Clark was selected second overall in 1985, possesses the athleticism and versatility to play around the field. As an 11-year-old, Bart made the switch from center field to catcher, but has no desire to change positions again.
"I like being in the game, I like calling pitches," Bart said Monday during a visit to AT&T Park, where he met with players, reporters and club officials. "You're very involved as a catcher, obviously. I like to say that I'm a leader, so moving people around vocally, that's kind of what's drawn me to catching."
At 14, Bart was cut from a travel baseball team and picked up by the Georgia Roadrunners, fittingly coached by 12-year veteran catcher Michael Barrett in his first year out of MLB. Barrett became Bart's biggest influence.
"He poured a lot of knowledge into my mind," Bart said. "Basically on the mental side of the game. I was kind of in between baseball and football back then but after that, I really found a love for baseball and it was what I wanted to do full-time."
Bart amassed a laundry list of accolades this past season. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Year led the conference in batting average (.369) and finished second in slugging percentage (.632) and hits (79). He had 24 multi-hit games and a .471 on-base-percentage, earning first-team All-American honors from five national outlets. He won ACC Defensive Player of the Year and calls the pitches himself instead of at the coach's behest.
"Me and Coach [Danny Hall] have a great relationship," Bart said. "About halfway into last year, he kind of let me start taking that over and this year, I never really looked over in the dugout for the coach. Obviously, if they wanted a call or two here or there, they would signal something in. But I'm extremely lucky for them to have that faith in me to call the pitches."
With Bart, the Buster Posey comparisons are inevitable. Both are Georgia-born catchers who played in the ACC and were selected within the top five picks of the MLB draft. Bart grew up watching and admiring Posey, and got the chance to meet him before the Giants' series opener against Miami.
"He [Posey] was asking me where I'll be," Bart said. "He said that his college roommate is going to be on the staff in Salem, so I'll get to meet him."
Bart is looking forward to catching alongside Posey and picking his brain in Spring Training. For now, the No. 2 overall pick is working out at the Giants spring training facility in Phoenix before shipping out to Salem-Keizer, the organization's short-season, rookie-level affiliate.
"You can't really choose who drafts you but if I had to go and do it, this is how I would have done it," Bart said. "I'm extremely lucky."
Martin Oppegaard is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Francisco.