Joey Bart, C
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2018, 1st Round
LAST LEVEL: Triple-A
GiantFutures 2022 Ranks: #2 Overall; #1 Catcher
Performance: Joey Bart’s Major League career started off in the roughest of ways in 2020, and his 2021 seasons was very much a response to how that went. With the minor league season lost to the pandemic, Bart spent most of 2020 on the team’s taxi squad, but played in 33 games with the Giants, where pitchers found a hole in his swing and exploited it. Bart struck out 41 times and walked just three times.
In 2021, Bart played just 67 games in Triple-A, mostly due to sharing playing time, but also thanks to time spent on the MLB taxi squad (he played two games in the bigs), and missing most of August due to injury. And while he didn’t blow away the statline (.294/.358/.472, 15 doubles, and 10 home runs, 82 strikeouts to 21 walks), it was a strong Triple-A batting line. He addressed the hold he had on the inside of the plate, as he hit .280 on pitches there according to Baseball America. It still isn’t ideal, but it shows the work he put in on his biggest flaw that fans took him to task for.
He also put in a ton of work on the defensive side. In 63 games behind the plate, he caught 15 of 46 attempted basestealers (32.6%), far better than the 5 of 28 (17.9%) he caught in 2020 in the bigs. That percentage would be 5th best in MLB in 2021, and just off Buster Posey’s career rate of 32.9%. And he did that with a pitching staff that saw 47 different men on the mound over the season (by comparison, Double-A Richmond had 23).
Strengths and Weaknesses: Let’s just get this out of the way: Bart’s strength is not going to be batting average. His offensive profile is very much a power one, and the strikeouts will come along with it. While his 10 home runs in 2021 are not an overwhelming amount, it was in only 67 games. He had a 33.8% XBH rate, with 15 doubles as well. His power is legitimate, and should play well in the majors, though his first MLB home run has yet to happen.
Defensively, Bart is still a catcher first, despite many rumors that the Giants were going to shift him to first base after the 2020 drafting of Patrick Bailey. Bart has yet to play an in-season game at first base. Meanwhile, he’s put in the work defensively, and has a plus arm that he put to its best use this season behind the plate. Bart has the potential to be one of the top defensive catchers in the league regularly.
But Bart still has areas to address as he is about to become the Giants primary catcher. His biggest will be how he handles his new role as a leader. While generally he has received good comments about his teamwork, there’s also been rumors in the other direction. His 2020 was marred by some obvious miscommunications with Johnny Cueto. He’ll also have to prove he can hit those inside pitches in the bigs.
2022 Outlook: Coming into 2021, few top prospects had as unsettled a position as Bart, but going into 2022, none has a path as clear as Bart. With Posey’s retirement, Bart will go into 2022 as one of the team’s regular catchers, and the hopes of being the team’s primary catcher. He’ll do it with a pitching staff in transition, with Cueto and Kevin Gausman gone. It’ll be a tall order, but Bart will be given a chance to pull it off.
Future Profile: His profile continues to be as a star catcher, one of the key players on a playoff-contending team.