AT&T PARK — Before the San Francisco Giants picked Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart with the second overall selection in the Major League Draft, several Giants players gathered around the clubhouse television.
Pablo Sandoval — who caught 176 games in the minor leagues — gamboled around the clubhouse, and quipped, somewhat jokingly, “He could be another Posey.”
The comparison isn’t unfair. While Bart — the ACC Player of the year — hasn’t played all nine positions, he stands at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Johnny Bench Award. He’s the first catcher San Francisco has taken first since Posey, who after being drafted fifth overall in 2008, reached the Major Leagues by September of 2009. It also happens that Posey was one of Bart’s two favorite players growing up, the other being Bryce Harper.
“[He’s] gifted defensively, had a big year with the bat and led the ACC in hitting, second in slugging, just had a big year on both sides of the ball,” said manager Bruce Bochy, himself a former catcher. “You look at him, he’s a man. Good-sized kid that really has developed his game, and is playing well on both sides.”
Bart, the highest draft pick for the Giants since taking first baseman Will Clark out of MississippiState second overall in 1985, led the ACC in batting average (.359), finished second in slugging (.632) and hits (79). He finished in the top 10 in home runs (16), runs scored (55) and on-base percentage (.471). Defensively, he had a career-best .992 fielding percentage.
Bart worked out at AT&T Park last Thursday, spending 24 hours in San Francisco with his father while meeting the top Giants brass. Alas, he did not take BART to the ballpark. He took an Uber.
It was his first trip to San Francisco, after a travel ball trip when he was 11 was cancelled due to weather.
“He looks like he’s pretty advanced,” Bochy said. “I don’t know where he’s going to start for us, but you look at the size of this kid, and the success that he’s had, plus the intangibles, like he’s been calling his own game, that’s always nice to know that he’s got a good feel for pitching and game calling. You would think someone like this would be on a fast pace.”
UPDATE: The Giants drafted Kentucky right-hander Sean Hjelle (pronounced “jelly”) with their second-round pick (45th overall). Hjelle, who stands at 6-foot-11, added 20 pounds of good weight in college, and has touched 97 mph in shorter fall ball outings, which was when the Giants sent scouts to watch him. San Francisco projects him as a starter.
Hjelle posted a career-best 3.44 ERA this season for the Wildcats in 15 appearances, 14 starts. Over 99.1 innings, he struck out 91 and walked just 22, allowing 87 hits.Joey BartMLBMLB DraftSan Francisco GiantsSean Hjelle