Joey Bart’s Bat, Hunger To Learn Impress Giants In Spring Training
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—First-year Giants manager Gabe Kapler knew all about the skill set of 2018 No. 2 overall pick Joey Bart. The strong arm, the toughness behind the plate, the ability to hit for average and power.
In the pair’s first spring training together, Kapler has learned a lot about one other facet of the catching prospect.
"What I didn’t know about Joey is what a good listener he was,” Kapler said. "He’s really sitting back and absorbing and taking things in this camp already… That part of the equation has been really cool.”
Bart has certainly had a successful spring thus far. Through three games, he is 4-for-6 from the plate, with a home run and two runs scored.
Bart checks all the boxes for becoming the long-term successor to Buster Posey behind the plate. He has figured out most of the attributes he needs from a physical standpoint, but as Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
Kapler isn’t the only one in the Giants organization that has taken notice. President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi has been astonished by Bart’s mindset.
“When you take a guy like Joey, who has been a great amateur player, a great pro career already, did a great job in the fall league before getting hurt, being a good listener means he has the recognition that he still has a lot to learn, he still has the chance to get better,” Zaidi said. “That’s really exciting for a young guy with that level of ability to have that kind of mindset of, ‘I have more to learn and want to soak in all that I can.’ ”
It’s clear that Bart, who won the Johnny Bench award as the top collegiate catcher while playing at Georgia Tech, wants to excel both offensively and defensively.
“(I’m) just trying to work on my game, both sides of it,” Bart said. “I like to be a complete player, not just a defensive guy, not just an offensive guy. I want to be a guy that can do a little of both.
“Just come here every day, having a blast like I am, and just playing the game the right way. Everything will work out from there.”
Injuries last season slowed down Bart’s progress. He broke his hand in April at high Class A San Jose. He returned in June and was promoted to Double-A Richmond, where he hit .316 with four home runs in 79 at-bats, but while playing in the Arizona Fall League in October, he broke his thumb.
Bart was frustrated by the injury, but he didn't let it get to him.
“It’s just part of the game,” he said. “When you get hurt … you just have to move forward and try to get better.”
Bart took the time off to work on his mental approach to the game, according to Zaidi.
“Physically he responded great," Zaidi said. "Emotionally, mentally, he was disappointed, but he just grinded through it. He used the time to work on other aspects of his game, his game planning. He made the best use of that time that he could.”