No more delays. The wait is. Joey Bart is a Giant.
Director of player development Kyle Haines told me last month he didn’t expect Bart be training at the Giants’ alternate site in Sacramento “that much longer.” There wasn’t a specific date then, but we know it now. The wait was just over three weeks, though it clearly felt much longer to fans with eager Twitter fingers.
Haines is overseeing the operations in Sacramento and has been monitoring Bart’s every move. Improvements in two specific areas of the young catcher’s game over the last month stood out to Haines, and played a big role in the Giants calling up the No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft on Thursday.
“We really saw his game calling and ability to hit right-handed pitching take a step to another level over the last month,” Haines told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday over a text message. “It has been fun to see his growth in the Summer Camp and alternate training site so far this year.”
Bart hit .262 with a .769 OPS vs. right-handed pitchers in Single-A San Jose last season compared to .279 with a .900 OPS against lefties. Once he was promoted to Double-A Richmond, he hit .275 with a .750 OPS against right-handers but improved to .393 with a 1.219 OPA vs. southpaws.
While he wasn’t able to play in games due to the minor league season being canceled this year, Bart did face right-handers with plenty of big league experience like Dereck Rodriguez, Trevor Chaill and Andrew Triggs in simulated innings. He also was able to learn from them as a catcher and work on specific situations with calling a game.
Bart was learning how to play first base in Sacramento to add more versatility, however, catching still is his main priority. The Giants know how tough managing a major league staff can be for a young catcher, and didn’t want to rush that process. His skills certainly stood out to his pitchers in Sacramento, too.
“(Joey) Bart is unbelievable,” Rodriguez told reporters one week ago. “Bart, he’s a big league player if I could say it. He’s awesome to throw to. He’s awesome calling games, and he looks like a veteran at the plate.”
Now, Bart truly is a big leaguer. The Giants never envisioned him as a platoon player. They never saw him as a middling major leaguer. They know his superstar potential, and didn’t see the benefits of pushing him too fast.
The Giants were patient with their prized possession, and feel it will pay off in big ways. Clearly he proved that in Sacramento, earning his move to San Francisco.
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What Joey Bart improved on most in Sacramento to earn Giants call-up originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area