Defense-First Catcher Patrick Bailey Makes Offensive Strides For Giants

Patrick Bailey pulled a pitch over the right-field wall for a solo shot in the eighth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie in Double-A Richmond’s 4-2 win at Bowie on April 25.

The homer boosted Bailey’s batting average to .333—and would be the last swing he took for the Flying Squirrels. He got promoted to Triple-A Sacramento the following day.

A switch-hitting catcher from North Carolina State whom the Giants selected in the first round in 2020, Bailey struggled at the plate in 33 games at High-A Eugene in 2021. He spent all of last season with Eugene, and though he hit 12 homers in 83 games, his slash line was just .225/.342/.419.

Bailey said his success at the plate in 14 games with Richmond—he hit .333/.400/.481 with two homers in 14 games—stemmed partially from a changed mindset.

“This offseason, I made a very conscious effort to be where my feet are, control what I can control,” Bailey said. “I think I was able to do a good job of that in Richmond.”

Richmond manager Dennis Pelfrey also was Bailey’s manager in Eugene in 2021. Pelfrey said “the biggest difference offensively between this year and in ’21 is the fact that he’s using the middle of the field.”

Like many switch-hitters, Bailey has produced better from the left side. Last season he hit .251 with 11 of his 12 homers from that side. He hit .133 from the right side.

Still, Pelfrey said, “I would not give up on him righthanded.”

Bailey’s calling card has long been his work behind the plate. “I’ve always thought of myself as defensive-first,” Bailey said, “and probably take the most pride in that.”   

Pelfrey praised Bailey’s creativity with his arm—“He almost looks like a shortstop turning a double play”—and his mental approach: “His calling of a game is exceptional.” 

The Giants lost Roberto Perez, their starting catcher on Opening Day, to a season-ending shoulder operation in April. Young catcher Joey Bart had a stint on the injured list with a back strain and also missed time because of groin tightness. 

Therefore, it’s not inconceivable that Bailey could go from High-A last season to his MLB debut in 2023.   

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