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MLB '19: College draft picks on rapid rise to big leagues

San Francisco Giants catcher Joey Bart, center, works out during a spring training baseball practice, in Scottsdale, Ariz in 2019. 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Joey Bart might not be ticketed for the big leagues to start this season, but at least the San Francisco Giants’ top catching prospect will get a long look in spring training.

Bart, the No. 2 overall pick in Major League Baseball’s first year player draft in 2018, is in camp after a successful 2019 season in the minors. He hit a combined .278 between Class A San Jose and Double-A Richmond, with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs and a .912 OPS in 22 games at Richmond.

He’s just fine with Triple-A Sacramento, if that’s where Bart opens the season. “I’ll believe it when I’m there,” he said. “That would be awesome, don’t get me wrong, but my goal for this spring is to come in every day and put myself in a great position to get better, because I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

On Wednesday, Bart — whose clubhouse stall is just a few steps from veteran catcher Buster Posey — took part in the Giants’ first full workout for catchers and pitchers. He caught bullpen sessions and hit a few opposite field home runs in batting practice.

“First impression, watching him on the field taking live batting practice is just how loud the ball comes off his bat, particularly to the opposite field,” new Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “To come out the first day and be driving the ball that way is a good sign.”

Sacramento seems a more likely destination for Bart even after the recent hip surgery for Aramis Garcia, who until then was seen as the top contender to back up Posey. The Giants see Tyler Heineman and Rob Brantly as the main options for that roster spot.

“We have two good options in Heineman and Brantly,” Kapler said. “It’s a blow to lose Garcia, and it’s also an opportunity for someone to step up and take control of that backup position.”

Bart dealt with two injuries in 2019. He was hit by a pitch on his left hand in April and missed a month and a half worth of games. Then, in October in the Arizona Fall League, he broke his right thumb after being hit by a pitch during a game, ending his time in the showcase league for top major league prospects.

Bart reacted angrily to the second injury, having already gone through the frustration of the first. He knew right away his thumb was fractured.

“There’s nothing you can do. Just go in the box looking for my pitch to hit and try to get out of the way,” Bart said. “I’m not going to be happy I broke my thumb after bouncing back from the hardest injury I’ve ever had. My words weren’t pleasant and I apologize for that. I’m just a competitor at the end of the day and it just kind of took over.”

On Wednesday, he looked to be back at full strength. He said he won’t wear any additional padding when up to bat.

NOTES: The Giants signed veteran right-hander Trevor Cahill to a minor league contract Wednesday, and Cahill took part in the day’s workout. Cahill, 31, is on his eighth team in his 12th major league season. “The first thing Trevor brings is versatility,” Kapler said. “I see him making starts for us and also see him pitching out of the pen.” … Kapler, on taking the field for the first time in a Giants uniform: “I feel most comfortable in a baseball uniform, in a dugout, and so that felt very easy for me.”

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