Possibly the most defensively gifted catcher the Giants have had since Buster Posey is making his first start Saturday.
Patrick Bailey, the 13th overall pick from 2020, will be in the squat catching Logan Webb as the Giants go for their fifth straight win in an afternoon game against the Marlins. Bailey broke the MLB seal when he debuted with three innings as a defensive replacement in Friday night’s win, catching Tyler Rogers’ rising slider for the final out. Now, Saturday afternoon, he’s hitting eighth.
Since he was drafted, Bailey’s reputation as a defensive catcher. The 6-foot, 210-pound 23-year-old’s glove gives him a high floor, and the Giants called him up not as temporary injury fill-in for Joey Bart (groin), but because the organization believes he can help now.
Bailey’s athleticism, preparation and strong arm that he uses from various angles gives him the tools to succeed. Working with the Minor League Gold Glover sounds like a pitcher’s dream.
“You definitely get the sense that he’s thinking along with you,” Tristan Beck, who’s thrown about 20 innings to Bailey over the past two years, said. “He’s a really vocal guy, likes to talk between innings, likes to come out to the mound and talk to you if you’re not on the same page. He makes you feel like he knows your arsenal as well as you do.”
Beck said Bailey is always thinking ahead of hitters, calling pitches to set up the next ones. He said the catcher has an innate feel for reading swings, which helps him call a game.
Bailey’s feel and attentiveness gives pitchers confidence, Beck said.
“It’s pretty rare,” Beck said. “Obviously, we’ve got a lot of really good catchers in this organization. Joey and I have a phenomenal relationship going back a number of years. Bailey, like I said, he’s a thinker. There’s just something about it that really shines through. It endeared him to me very quickly, and I’m really comfortable when he’s behind the plate.”
Ryan Walker, the reliever who got promoted the same day as Bailey, also said “you feel really comfortable” with Bailey in the crouch.
“He really knows what he’s doing,” Walker said. “I trust him behind the plate. Understand that you can call your own game, but if he’s calling a pitch, there’s a reason behind it. That’s what I love about it. You might see a hitter who loves two-seams, but for some reason he’s calling a two-seam because maybe that day (he knows) he’s sitting slider. I honestly trust everything he chooses to call, I know he’s got a reason.”
Three Giants pitchers got their first real taste of working with Bailey on Friday, when the catcher replaced Blake Sabol to play defense for the final three innings.
Reliever John Brebbia had the honors of being Bailey’s first MLB batterymate.
“Poor kid,” Brebbia joked. “That’s too bad. That’s unfortunate for him.”
Brebbia, who only throws a fastball and a slider, noted that Bailey probably didn’t have to do much prep work for him. Brebbia said pitching to Bailey felt “completely normal” and that after the public address announcer reminded the Oracle Park crowd that Bailey was debuting, the thought of that being his first MLB action didn’t cross his mind.
It didn’t take long for Bailey to make an impression on Brebbia, though.
In a 3-2 count to slugger Jorge Soler, Bailey ripped a slider below the batter’s knees and into the zone, framing the pitch to earn an inning-ending strike three call.
“Pretty sure I threw ball four to Jorge Soler that ended the inning,” Brebbia said. “Those are always going to stand out because that’s huge. Instead of me standing on the mound with a guy on first and facing a new hitter, I’m just walking to the dugout.”
Bailey caught Brebbia and both Rogers twins with Tyler earning the save with 1.1 scoreless innings.
Next up: Webb, the ace.
“I’m thrilled,” Bailey said of catching Webb. “He’s one of the best.”
Webb told The San Jose Mercury News that he’s “super excited” for Bailey and complimented his “soft hands.” Webb has thrown to Bailey about six or seven times in the spring, he said.
In his five-year career, Webb has pitched to 11 catchers. His first catcher, Stephen Vogt, is now retired. His most accomplished, Posey, now owns his team (partially). His most common, Bart, could one day share the load with Bailey.
Between them all is a hodgepodge of journeyman veterans and fringe big-leaguers. Your Curt Casalis, Austin Wynns, Chadwick Tromps, Michael Papierskis and Tyler Heinemans.
Like he did in his first MLB action — and in 14 games apiece in Richmond and Sacramento this year — Bailey will get a chance to substance behind his reputation.