Giants' Farhan Zaidi analyzes looming decision on ‘awesome' Joey Bart


Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have been seated in the section right behind the plate for the Giants' simulated games this month, usually with three or four members of the front office spread out nearby. While Giants Twitter has lit up with every shaky cell phone video of a Joey Bart homer or throw down to second, the men in charge of the roster are getting the best view. 

And they're just as impressed.

"He has been awesome over the last three weeks in camp and obviously he was really impressive in February and March also," Zaidi said. "As an organization, we couldn't be higher on Joey. When I first came to the Giants in late 2018 I thought really highly of him and he has only improved that impression with what we've seen."

Zaidi spoke about Bart during an interview that airs on NBC Sports Bay Area's season preview show tonight at 6 p.m. and again after the exhibition game against the A's. He is thrilled with the camp Bart is having, but he again noted that there is still development ahead for Bart, who seems very likely to start the season at the alternate camp in Sacramento, not on the big league roster. 

"As we've talked about a lot, particularly on the position player side from a development standpoint, upper-level reps are important," Zaidi said. "You go to the best players in baseball -- guys like Mike Trout and Mookie Betts had 500 at-bats in Double-A and Triple-A. Joey, unfortunately, because of the injury last year, got a little held up, and as we've talked about he's got less than 100 plate appearances at the Double-A level. 

"It's really two-fold. One is just getting him more competitive reps and we're planning to set up our Sacramento alternate site to be as competitive as possible and really expose him and the other position players we have to upper-level pitching. The other thing that we want him to work on, which we haven't been able to so far, is getting some reps at first base. We want to maximize his opportunity and obviously, we're going to have Buster (Posey) coming back in 2021. Positional versatility is important."

Bart suffered two hand fractures last year that limited his time on the field. He has just 79 at-bats above A-ball, which is an extremely low number for a prospect approaching the big leagues. Posey, for instance, got 303 at-bats in Triple-A before becoming a full-time big leaguer. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The second element of that answer is actually just as interesting. Since Posey decided to opt out of the season, Bart has seen a heavy workload behind the plate in simulated games. But with Patrick Bailey and at least one more veteran catcher set to also likely be in Sacramento, the Giants can finally start to get Bart some serious work at first base.

Of course, there's another part to all this. Keeping Bart off the big league roster at the start of the year could allow the Giants to keep him for an additional season because of service time rules. Every day on the big league roster counts on a prorated basis this season. 

Zaidi said the Giants have not made a final decision -- although it's not hard to read between the lines -- and he added that the front office has "been pretty consistent about (Bart) all offseason and into the spring, but again, we couldn't be higher on him based on what he's shown so far."

The same apparently holds true for the clubhouse. Evan Longoria, Wilmer Flores and Austin Slater have praised Bart on Zoom calls with reporters in recent days. Zaidi said he has noticed all of the positive words. 

[RELATED: Kapler appreciates Bart's professionalism at camp]

"That's when you know that the whole organization has really bought into a young player," he said. 

For more from Zaidi on Bart, Marco Luciano, camp standouts, and players who might be surprise contributors this season, watch the season preview show tonight at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

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