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What to expect from Joey Bart in bigs

@JimCallisMLB
August 20, 2020

The day after the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Tigers right-hander Casey Mize, made his big league debut, the Giants called up the No. 2 overall choice. Ever since Buster Posey elected not to play this season, San Francisco players and fans alike have wondered when the

The day after the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Tigers right-hander Casey Mize, made his big league debut, the Giants called up the No. 2 overall choice.

Ever since Buster Posey elected not to play this season, San Francisco players and fans alike have wondered when the club would make its catcher of the future its catcher of the present. After Giants backstops (mostly Chadwick Tromp and Tyler Heineman) combined to bat .182/.229/.273 as the team fell into the National League West cellar by losing 16 of its first 26 games, Bart headed to Oracle Park.

Following in a proud tradition of Georgia Tech catchers that includes fellow first-rounders Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters, Bart won Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018. Since setting a since-broken record for the largest up-front bonus given to a drafted position player ($7,025,000) that June, he has advanced quickly through the Minors.

Bart, the Giants' top prospect, homered 13 times during his 51-game pro debut, then batted .278/.328/.495 while going deep 16 times in 79 games and reaching Double-A during his first full season. He missed six weeks last year when a pitch broke a bone in his left hand, and he was the best player in the Arizona Fall League during the offseason until another errant pitch fractured his right thumb. The 23-year-old Bart sits at No. 15 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, making him the game's second-highest-rated catching prospect behind only Adley Rutschman of the Orioles.

Here's our breakdown of Bart's tools on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 represents big league average ability:

Hit (50): While Bart is a power-over-hit guy, he's far from an all-or-nothing masher. A career .284 hitter with a reasonable 21 percent strikeout rate in the Minors, he does a good job of using the entire field. He could do more damage if he improves his selectivity after walking in just 6 percent of his plate appearances during his first two pro seasons. He's a right-handed hitter who has crushed lefties (.325/.375/.667) and produced against righties (.271/.332/.487).

Power (60): Bart's most eye-catching tool is his pop, which comes from a combination of bat speed, strength and leverage from his 6-foot-2, 238-pound frame. He lets his power come naturally rather than selling out for home runs and can drive the ball out of the park to all fields. Of his 33 homers in the Minors and AFL, 17 went to left field, seven to center and nine to right.

Run (30): While Bart features below-average speed like most catchers, he'll pick his spots on the bases. He has stolen seven bases (albeit in 12 attempts) and legged out six triples in 130 pro games.

Arm (60): Bart not only has a strong arm, but he also has a quick transfer and makes accurate throws. He has caught 31 percent of basestealers in the Minors and was especially impressive in the AFL, where he threw out nine of 13 (69 percent).

Field (60): Bart has made tremendous strides behind the plate since his days as a Georgia high schooler, when several scouts questioned whether he had enough receiving skills and agility to remain at catcher. He has worked hard to improve his defense, and now there no longer are questions about his ability to frame pitches and block balls in the dirt. He also earns praise for his game-calling ability and leadership.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly MLB Pipeline Podcast.