The messaging from the Giants is consistent. Gabe Kapler has never wavered; Farhan Zaidi has not gotten carried away and let slip that the team’s future just might become the present sooner than planned.
For an entire organization to repeat the same talking point, though — that Joey Bart is not ready yet — is difficult. And when he was discussing the young prospects who have caught his eye, Evan Longoria flirted with saying what so many fans want to hear.
“Joey Bart I think is the closest that we have in terms of breaking through at the big-league level and being an impact player right out of the chute,” the 34-year-old third baseman said, adding he’s talked more with Bart than further-down prospects like Marco Luciano. “I know [Bart] is pretty close.”
Close, but no opening start. The Giants continue to state the 23-year-old still needs more developing before he is seen in a big-league game. Hand injuries the past two seasons have delayed his path, and he’s played just 22 games above High-A in his professional career.
Yet, in February and March he looked not just like the best hitting catcher on a team with Buster Posey, but perhaps the best hitter period. In the tiny sample size of 19 plate appearances, Bart slashed .438/.526/.875 with a pair of home runs.
The time off did not seem to harm his bat, and he slammed an RBI single into deep left off Dereck Rodriguez in Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Oracle Park.
Joey Bart rips a Dereck Rodríguez pitch into left field for a RBI in the first inning of Monday's scrimmage pic.twitter.com/6hXBeKxhXD
— KNBR (@KNBR) July 14, 2020
“Relative to a lot of the other prospects that we have at camp, Joey is fairly advanced,” Gabe Kapler said, trying to put Longoria’s comment in context. “From a bigger-picture perspective, [Bart has] got a lot of development left. And more reps to develop both behind the plate in calling a game and working with pitchers, and from a plate-appearance perspective. More development will certainly serve Joey well.”
Even without Posey above him in the hierarchy after the Giants legend opted out to be with his adopted twins. The Giants do not have a catcher on the 40-man roster, Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman suddenly the front-runners to both have jobs in San Francisco. It is not Bart whose bat is convincing the Giants plans could be changed but Chadwick Tromp’s, who homered twice Sunday.
Tromp is a 25-year-old who came from Cincinnati’s system with plate discipline the team likes. Unspoken is that adding Heineman, Brantly and/or Tromp to the roster would not have the same future implications as adding Bart and beginning his service time that eventually leads to free agency.
The Giants would argue they do not want to harm Bart’s career by not putting him in a position to succeed; they want to win this year and hope they find the right catchers to do so, even if those catchers change within a month or two.
As Bart waits, he’s been getting some tough love from Longoria.
“I like to rag on guys but in the right way,” Longoria said. “… I’m on Joey a little bit, and I’m kind of hard on him, but it’s because I really like him as a player and I think he has the potential to be a special player.”