The Giants are not wavering. Neither is the Joey Bart show.
Both the team’s commitment to Bart getting more reps before he debuts and the star power that make his debut so enticing were on display Wednesday at Oracle Park. The top catching prospect first flexed behind the plate, gunning a stealing Mike Yastrzemski down at second thanks to a quick pop up and a nice tagging job by young Luis Toribio.
But it’s not Bart’s catching that has so much of San Francisco calling for him to take the reins that Buster Posey left this season. His bat was loud again in the intrasquad scrimmage, launching a stand-up double to deep left-center off Andrew Triggs, while striking out twice.
Ahead of Bart on the depth chart are 31-year-old Rob Brantly and 29-year-old Tyler Heineman, along (perhaps) with 25-year-old Chadwick Tromp. It is difficult to imagine any argument that Bart is not a top-two catcher in that group. Yet the Giants continue to insist he needs more development before debuting; their contention is that he is too valuable to play in the majors before he’s 100 percent ready. They do not want him to fail and get discouraged.
“We just see Joey as a player who can really benefit from more reps in the batter’s box, more opportunities to game-plan and more opportunities to work with some really great player development and major league coaches,” Gabe Kapler said on a Zoom call on a day the Giants officially announced the taxi squad would call Sacramento home. “… Joey’s best path to being an excellent major league player is through more repetition and a little bit more time to develop.”
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— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 16, 2020
Whenever a team delays a prospect before debuting, there is wonder if service-time manipulation is in play. In so many other cases in the Farhan Zaidi regime, the Giants have promoted prospects when they have shown they deserved promotions. The Giants can point to Bart’s 22 games above High-A as reason for being cautious.
While it is fair and smart to think about the future, this year’s team will want its best 30 players on the 30-man roster to begin the season. Evan Longoria praised Bart on Monday, calling Bart the “closest [prospect] that we have in terms of breaking through at the big-league level and being an impact player right out of the chute.”
Another veteran, asked which young players have stood out, seconded Longoria on Wednesday.
“I really like Joey Bart’s approach,” Wilmer Flores said. “He can hit the ball hard, he has really impressed me. I didn’t get to see him in spring training [in February and March], but I’m getting to see him now. He’s really got some pop.”
It would be easier to sell the team and the fanbase that the Giants are trying to compete immediately if there were a proven commodity blocking Bart’s path, but Posey is home with his adopted twins, and Russell Martin is still a free agent. Heineman and Brantly have qualities to like, but both were bunting for hits Tuesday (which is commendable) because they are better off scheming their way on base. Tromp has had a nice camp, but he was with Cincinnati since 2013 without breaking through to the majors.
Yet again, a large segment of San Francisco is frustrated that the Bart train is being delayed.