With the 2018 Draft fast approaching (June 4-6 on MLB Network and MLB.com), we take a closer look at the top prospects in this year's class.
Name: Joey Bart
School: Georgia Tech
Rank on Draft Top 200: 6
Weight: 225 pounds
MLB comp: Matt Wieters
Stats: 56 G, 216 AB, .361/.474/.639, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB
Tools (Future grades on 20-80 scouting scale)
Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
Bart's power potential could have gotten him selected in the first five rounds of the Draft after he led Buford High to the 2015 Georgia 4-A state championship, but he dropped to the Rays in the 27th round because he was committed to Georgia Tech. His development at the plate and improvement behind it has him positioned as the top college catcher available in 2018. The Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year and defensive player of the year, he's poised to join Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters as Yellow Jackets backstops popped in the first round, and he's even been linked to the Giants as a possible No. 2 overall pick.
Bart's bat speed, strength and leverage give him power to all fields from the right side of the plate. He has the swing and the feel to hit for a solid average, and he has made huge strides with his plate discipline this spring. He has enough natural pop that he doesn't need to sell out for home runs, and he's not falling into that trap as much as he did in the past.
There were questions about Bart's long-term catching ability when he arrived at Georgia Tech, but he has cleaned up his receiving enough that there no longer are doubts that he'll stay behind the plate. His strong arm never has been in question and he threw out 40 percent of basestealers in his first two college seasons. Though he's a well-below-average runner, he's relatively athletic for a catcher.
Fun fact: Bart trained extensively last offseason with Wieters, who also went to Georgia Tech and was taken with the fifth overall pick by the Orioles in 2007.
He said it: "If I swing at a pitch that is something that I like to hit, I'd like to say a lot of times, I capitalize on that. I can get myself in trouble when I'm swinging at things that are out of my hitting zone. They can still be strikes. That's just the kind of thing. You've got to figure out what you want to hit and identify yourself as a hitter, know what you do best and stick to that. I think that's how I've developed some power."
"I have a good idea of what [opposing pitchers] are going to try to do. Being a catcher, that kind of helps. I can kind of understand what pitchers are trying to set me up for and things like that. Not saying I'm a guess hitter. I have a good feel for the game. I know what's going on. If I can do anything I can do to 'cheat' a little bit, that's what's going to help me out. The best players in the game know when and what's going on."
"It's not just hitting. It's catching as well. Some umpires, they have different strike zones that sometimes you can take advantage of. I think the guys that can understand that and work on that will get more strikes called or will hit pitches that you really shouldn't hit."
They said it: "I think [MLB scouts and teams] see a guy who's gifted in all the five tools. I think the area that has all intrigued is that he is calling the pitches. I think body language and makeup, he's off the charts. It's rare that somebody just goes into pro ball and struggle with something. I think his work ethic and his makeup will help him overcome whatever obstacle or slump or whatever may come his way as he fights to get to the big leagues." -- Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall