2018 Draft Preview: Joey Bart

Joey Bart

School: Georgia Tech
Position: C
Height/Weight: 6’3”/225
B/T: R/R
DOB: 12/15/1996
Previously drafted: 2015, Round 27 by the Tampa Bay Rays

Scouting Reports:

High school: Bart was a four-year letter winner at Buford High School. His senior year he batted .437 with 35 RBIs. He is Buford’s all-time leader for hits, RBIs and runs scored. Bart was named to the Georgia High School Association’s AAA all-state team in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Louisville Slugger named him as a first team All-American in 2015. USA Today named him to its 2014-2015 All-USA Georgia Baseball Team.

College: Bart could’ve been a top five talent in the 2015 draft, according to MLBPipeline, but a fierce commitment to Georgia Tech saw him fall to the 27th round. Bart declined and opted to go to Tech. In his freshman season, Bart was named to the ACC all-freshman team and Louisville Slugger named him a freshman all-American. He was also named to the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team. He played in 43 games, starting 42, including 28 at catcher. He batted. 299 with 10 doubles, a homer and 31 RBIs.

His sophomore season was of even more distinction. Bart was named to the 2017 ABCA/Rawlings Atlantic All-Region Second Team, he was a 2017 Johnny Bench Award semifinalist, and was on the all-ACC second team. Bart was on the 2017 Golden Spikes award midseason watch list, and PerfectGame/Rawlings named him to its midseason All-America team, as did D1Baseball. Bart won Collegiate Player of the Week and PerfectGame/Rawlings Player of the Week honors once. He played and started in 44 games, starting 40 behind the plate. His season was shortened by 11 games after suffering a hand injury. Bart hit .296 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. He also participated in the 2017 USA Baseball CNT Training Camp.

His junior season was the best of the lot. He started 57 games and touted a .357 average with 16 home runs. The former Georgia prep star was once again named a Johnny Bench Award Semifinalist and once again was on the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List, adding a Preseason Watch List honor as well. Perfect Game/Rawlings and Baseball America both named him a Preseason All-American and he made several other national preseason All-America teams.

 Highlighting Joey Bart’s swing in game and in the cage courtesy of Baseball America:

A Georgia Tech athletics produced highlight reel:

MLBPipeline ranks Bart 6th overall, but believe he is in play at No. 2 for the San Francisco Giants. Bart is the top college catcher in the draft due to his bat speed and natural power. Jim Callis believes Bart has the bat to hit for a solid average, and that his discipline continues to grow. Before arriving at Georgia Tech, evaluators were concerned about his ability to stick behind the plate, but Bart’s receiving has also improved. His arm is already top caliber, as he threw out 40 percent of base stealers in his first two college seasons.

On their top 500, Baseball America has Bart listed as the #5 prospect in the draft class. Carrying his high school success with him to Georgia Tech, BA argues Bart may be the best catcher to ever come through the school, besting notable alumni Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters. BA projects Bart’s defensive profile to be above-average at the pro level, with an arm that touches plus. They also argued that his game-calling, quiet hands and footwork are all exceptional for the amateur level. When it comes to his bat, BA noted his all-fields raw power and his success at the Cape Cod League in 2016, where he hit .309/.389/.433. Some evaluators are knocking his poor showing in the summer of 2017, but BA attributes the performance to a groin injury. BA’s sole criticism is that Bart strikes out frequently, and has a fringe-average hit tool, at best. Despite that they believe his defense is good enough to see him come off the board early.

Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel are the highest on Bart, ranking him as the third best player overall and the would-be 66th best prospect in the MLB. Once again, Bart’s exceptional defensive abilities were highlighted, as well as his makeup. The Fangraphs duo said Bart is perhaps one of the only catchers in a major program that calls his own games. They also said he frequently reached out to area scouts for game plan input. They believe Bart’s power will be his calling card, but also knocked him for his high strikeout rate. Fangraph’s believes Bart should go at No. 2 to the Giants, but could be in play for No. 1 overall if Detroit is scared off of right-hander Casey Mize. Either way, Fangraphs believes Bart could debut in the big league’s as soon as late 2019 because of high caliber defense.

Scouting Grades:

Note: These scouting grades are based on the projections at mlbpipeline.com.

Hit: 50
Power: 55
Run: 30
Arm: 60
Field: 55
Overall: 55

Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:

“There are more than a few people wondering if he is the best catcher to come through the program,” - Baseball America

Jason Varitek was drafted in the 1st round of the 1993 and the 1994 amateur draft. He was a three time All-Star, a Gold Glove recipient and a Silver Slugger. He finished his career with 24.2 WAR and a World Series championship ring. Matt Wieters was drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft. He is a four time All-Star and a two time Gold Glove winner, and in the twilight of his career, he was at several points in his career in discussion as one of the best catchers in the game.

Some talent evaluators believe Joey Bart will be better than both of them.

A defense-first catcher, with power to spare, Bart’s defensive ability has been widely and almost universally praised, besides a small knock against it by MLBPipeline when he was first entering college. His defense combined with his power at the plate could make him above average as soon as he is called up, which as Fangraphs notes could be surprisingly soon in terms of prospect development (especially for catchers).

Bart had draft buzz coming out of high school, which has only grown louder after his college career. Several evaluators have tied the Giants to him, and he remains a potential target with several in the Giants front office scouting him heavily.

If he falls to four, the White Sox could conceivably take him. His defense would offer an enticing option, and he would immediately be the best catcher in the the system, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The White Sox have been off-handedly tied to Bart, at best. He is among the group of hitters in consideration, but he definitely does not lead that group. Plus when considering the catching tandem of Zack Collins and Seby Zavala the picture gets much murkier.

If they do take him, Bart would give something the White Sox haven’t had in a long time however: a complete catching prospect.

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