The Joey Bart era is officially underway.
There’s been a lot of speculation as to when Bart — arguably the team’s top prospect — would get called. He hit the stitches off of the ball in Spring Training, but the team reassigned him to the Minor Leagues shortly before the season was suspended.
He picked up where he left off at Summer Camp, but Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, and Gabe Kapler held their position, claiming that Bart needed some more developmental time before being thrust into the Majors.
Many thought that was just a lie to get the team through the first week or so, at which point they could call up Bart without it costing a year of his service time. That proved false, with the Giants maintaining that they wanted Bart to get more reps at the plate, behind the plate, and at first base. He kept plugging away at the Alternate Training Site in Sacramento.
But no more.
Bart will join the Giants for their series finale against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night, and barring looking drastically in over his head — which doesn’t seem likely — he’s here to stay.
There’s no word yet on what the corresponding move is, but it seems highly likely that Bart will replace one of the other catchers on the roster, Chadwick Tromp and Tyler Heineman. Smart money would say Tromp, since he hits from the same side of the plate as Bart, whereas Heineman is a switch-hitter.
It’s unclear if the performance of Tromp and Heineman accelerated the move to Bart. Heineman started the year hot, getting 5 hits and 2 walks in his first 4 starts. But he’s cooled down considerably, going 2-21 with 1 walk and 0 extra-base hits in his last 7 games.
It’s a similar story for Tromp, who started the year 7-22 with 2 home runs and 1 double. Since then he’s hit just 1-23, with 9 strikeouts to 1 walk.
Bart is clearly the team’s best option at catcher right now, so if the Giants feel it won’t stunt his development to face Major League pitchers, then this is emphatically the right move. The timing is also fun, given that Casey Mize — the one player drafted ahead of Bart in 2018 — made his MLB debut on Wednesday night.
It seems likely that he’ll be an everyday or at least near-everyday player, be it at catcher, designated hitter, or even first base.
Fangraphs ranks Bart as the number 8 prospect in baseball, while MLB Pipeline has him at 15, and Baseball America slots him in at 33.