San Francisco Giants draft pick Joey Bart wins Johnny Bench Award

When Joey Bart tried out for the East Cobb Astros — his local travel ball team — at the age of 14, he missed the cut. Instead, the Astros took Tyler Stephenson, a future first-round pick, and Lucas Herbert, a future second round pick.

“I guess there were some pretty good catchers on that team,” he said last week, upon being introduced to the local San Francisco media at AT&T Park.

On Thursday, Bart — drafted No. 2 in the 2018 Major League Draft as the heir apparent to Buster Posey — achieved something neither Stephenson nor Herbert did: Like Posey, he took home the Johnny Bench Award.

Posey, before he joined the Giants, won the Bench Award, the ACC Player of the Year and the Golden Spikes Award. Bart was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes — it went to California first baseman Andrew Vaughn on Thursday — but like Posey, did take home the other two awards.

Bart — who attended the ceremony in Wichita, Kan. — is still working out in extended spring training in Arizona, but will soon head to Salem, Ore., to play for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the short-season Northwest League.

Bart, who was just the third Georgia Tech catcher to be tabbed a finalist for the award — joining Matt Wieters (2007) and Zane Evans (2013) — earlier this season, became the first-ever Yellow Jacket catcher to take home the honor.

Bart led the ACC in hitting with a .359 average on the season. He led Georgia Tech and ranked second in the ACC in slugging percentage (.632), third in on-base percentage (.471), third in total bases (139), fourth in hits (79), and was fifth with a team-high 16 home runs.

He recorded a team-high 16-game hitting streak and had 24 multi-hit games in 2018, which included a pair of multi-home run games at Mercer on April 10 and at Virginia on May 14.

While calling all the pitches for the Yellow Jackets pitching staff, Bart posted a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 12-of-33 would-be base stealers. He also recorded three pickoffs.

Bart was also a 2018 Dick Howser Trophy finalist, an ABCA/Rawlings Atlantic all-region first team selection and the NCBWA District 4 Player of the Year.

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By Al Saracevic