Piece by piece, day by day, the Giants are introducing the next era of talent at Third and King.
Friday, the Giants selected Patrick Bailey’s contract from Triple-A, priming him for a debut this weekend. The Giants selected the switch-hitting catcher in the first round of the 2020 draft — one round ahead of Casey Schmitt, who has tore it up for San Francisco in his first nine games.
In related roster moves, the Giants also selected reliever Ryan Walker and placed Joey Bart (groin) and Ross Stripling (back) on the injured list. San Francisco designated Cal Stevenson for assignment and put Heliot Ramos (oblique) on the 60-day injured list to create two 40-man roster spots.
Bailey is set to make his MLB debut this weekend against Miami. He could start as early as Friday, when veteran Anthony DeSclafani takes the ball in the series opener.
Bailey comes with a sterling reputation as a defender behind the plate. Like Schmitt, he won a MiLB Gold Glove Award last year. He’s regarded as the best fielding catcher in the organization and drew rave reviews from pitchers during spring training.
This year, Bailey needed just 14 games at Double-A Richmond to earn a promotion to Sacramento. For the Flying Squirrels, he hit .333 with two home runs and a .882 OPS.
Bailey has always been much stronger as a left-handed hitter than a righty. That trend has held true this year; across two levels, he has posted a .826 OPS as a lefty compared to a .542 OPS from the other side.
Bart has shown improvements defensively and has cut down on his strikeout rate this year, but it has come at the expense of his power. The former second overall pick has yet to hit a home run in 2023 while dealing with a myriad of injuries. Bart missed nine of the first 10 games of the season with a back strain and missed several games — but avoided the IL — with a groin strain in late April.
Without Bart until at least May 28, the Giants will be left with Blake Sabol and Bailey. They’re both effectively left-handed hitters, and Bailey is a much stronger defender. Sabol, the Rule 5 Draft pick, is valued highly within the organization despite still learning the position on the fly.
Sabol is hitting .280 with an .804 OPS this season even after a 1-for-12 start to his career. His bat, and ability to play corner outfield, makes it possible for the Giants to carry all three catchers once Bart returns.
Defensively this year, Giants catchers have graded as strong pitch framers but weak blockers. Gabe Kapler said this week that the club is working on adjustments to find a better balance between those two defensive skills (in addition to throwing).
Bailey should help expedite that process.
If Bailey takes the position and immediately provides a spark on both sides of the ball — like Schmitt has in the infield — the Giants could roll with him and give Bart time to develop in Triple-A. Bart’s role on the big-league club has been precarious ever since the team publicly declared his roster spot not guaranteed before spring training began. Barth as done essentially everything the organization asked of him since then, but Bailey is the backstop drafted by Farhan Zaidi’s front office, not him.
Walker, on a more micro level, has the chance to improve the Giants’ bullpen that has the third-worst ERA in baseball (5.54). The bullpen put together back-to-back excellent performances during San Francisco’s sweep over Philadelphia, but will need more arms with Stripling hitting the injured list.
Walker has a 0.89 ERA in 15 games with Sacramento this year, limiting his walks in the extremely difficult pitching environment of the Pacific Coast League.
Schmitt was the first position player drafted under Zaidi to debut. Bailey will be the second. Walker will join Cole Waites on the pitching side. Kyle Harrison, regarded as the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, has work to do but is closing in on his much-anticipated debut. Center fielder Luis Matos is already on the 40-man roster and now one level away from The Show. Marco Luciano is healthy and destroying Double-A pitching.
The Giants’ future is coming. Some of it is already here.