SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants last owned the MLB Draft's No. 2 overall pick 33 years ago, they used it to select somebody who became an icon: Will Clark. Possessing that pick again Monday, they chose somebody who resembles and could replace Buster Posey, another icon.• Draft Tracker: Follow
SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants last owned the MLB Draft's No. 2 overall pick 33 years ago, they used it to select somebody who became an icon: Will Clark. Possessing that pick again Monday, they chose somebody who resembles and could replace Buster Posey, another icon.
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Meet Joey Bart, who parallels Posey in more ways than one. They're both Georgia natives. They're both converted catchers who embraced their new position immediately. And they both can hit. Posey has done it enough to make five All-Star teams and win four Silver Slugger awards; Bart recorded a slash line of .359/.471/.632 with 16 home runs and 38 RBIs in 57 games as a junior at Georgia Tech. His batting average and slugging percentage ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Posey became a big league regular in two seasons. Should Bart sign with the Giants and develop that quickly, he'd be ready to serve as San Francisco's backstop in 2021, the final guaranteed year on Posey's contract (the Giants hold an option for 2022).
Bart acknowledged his admiration for Posey during a conference call with reporters.
"I've liked him forever," said Bart, 21.
He's a semifinalist for two player of the year awards, the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy, as well as the Johnny Bench Award for being the nation's top collegiate catcher. Posey won all of them.
"For my name to be put up there with his is just unreal," Bart said.
The Giants used their second-round Draft choice on 6-foot-11 Sean Hjelle, a right-hander from the University of Kentucky who was the Southeastern Conference's Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore in 2017.
"We're ecstatic to be able to get two guys who can contribute to the Giants in the near future," scouting director John Barr said.
Barr reiterated his emphasis that the club never drafts for need at the Major League level. He did point out, however, that he and Giants scouts spoke to several ACC coaches who opposed Georgia Tech and insisted Bart was among "the best they've seen."
Bart avoided saying anything that might have made Posey seem like his intended prey.
"Those comparisions are cool," said Bart, who bats and throws right-handed. "But he's on a whole 'nother level."
Bart reached levels that were virtually unmatched this year among his peers. As a junior, he led the ACC in batting average and ranked second in slugging percentage. Defensively, he committed two passed balls, matching the league's lowest total, and posted a personal-best .992 fielding percentage.
Bart is the fifth Yellow Jacket to be named the ACC's Player of the Year and the first since Mark Teixeira in 2000. He's also Georgia Tech's first catcher to be first team on both the All-America and All-ACC squads since Jason Varitek in 1993.
Moreover, Bart eclipsed right-hander Kevin Brown as Georgia Tech's highest Draft pick. Brown went fourth overall to the Texas Rangers in 1986.
One thing Bart didn't do during a visit to San Francisco last week for a pre-Draft workout was ride BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, the railway system that links the entire Bay Area).
If he gets his way, he'll receive numerous opportunities to experiment with public transit.
"I'd love to get there as soon as possible," Bart said. "That's one thing that attraced me to the Giants. I felt like they really needed me for the future and really wanted me as well and they always want to win. They're not looking to rebuild like some organizations."
Barr was far from certain that Hjelle, 21, still would be available with the 45th overall pick.
"That was a waiting game to see if he was going to make it to us," Barr said.
Hjelle commanded attention after finishing 11-4 with a 3.89 ERA as a sophomore. He wasn't as prolific this year but remained successful, posting a 7-5 mark with a 3.44 ERA.
"We like the way he handles himself," Barr said. "He doesn't look like a 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11 pitcher because he moves so well. You expect him to be a little more gawky or something, but he actually moves his feet and he has a feel. He throws strikes. We see him being a starter in the big leagues."
The Draft continues Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage beginning at 10 a.m. PT.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.