Giants rookie catcher Patrick Bailey has made a name for himself and is becoming a household name after his impressive 2023 MLB season.
The 2020 first-round draft pick made his debut in late May and immediately provided the Giants with a spark that fueled an early-summer surge that propelled them into playoff contention. Bailey since has established himself as the Giants' catcher of the future and the heir to franchise icon Buster Posey.
ESPN's Jeff Passan spoke to a few MLB scouts, who pondered Bailey's position among MLB catchers and posed the question: Is Bailey redefining catching? One scout answered and made a bold proclamation.
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"The scout explained that the catching position might be the least receptive to evolution of all -- that something as simple as going to one knee to catch was frowned upon for so long that it took either a headstrong catcher or a keen instructor to allow it," Passan wrote. "To see Bailey doing what he's doing for the Giants as a rookie, then, boggled the scout's mind, because Bailey is the furthest thing from a cookie cutter -- and he's already the best defensive player in baseball.
"Bailey does everything exceptionally well. He calls such a good game that veteran pitchers throw whatever he says. He frames with the expertise of someone who works at Michael's. The throwing, though. That's what really distinguishes him. Bailey doesn't have a specific arm slot. Sidearm. Three-quarters. Over the top. Doesn't matter nearly as much as the result: 24 runners caught stealing, the most in the NL."
One catcher whom Bailey has been compared to the most -- oftentimes by Giants fans -- has been Posey. However, the scouts ESPN spoke to perhaps offered a more prestigious comp.
"I hate to say who I think he's like ..." the scout told Passan
San Francisco Giants
"So I'll say it for him: Yadier Molina," Passan said of the scout's comp. "The scout's brethren agree: Bailey can be so good that comparing him to arguably the greatest defensive catcher ever to don the tools doesn't feel far-fetched."
Molina retired after the 2022 season and undoubtedly will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when eligible in 2028.
In 19 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Molina, a two-time World Series champion, won nine Gold Glove Awards and was named to 10 NL All-Star teams while collecting 2,168 career hits at the plate.
If there's one player, other than Posey, that Giants fans wouldn't mind Bailey being compared to, it's Molina.