Farhan Zaidi has had 21 months to plot how he would one day tell Joey Bart that he was coming to the big leagues. True to his nature, the Giants president of baseball operations decided to have a little fun with the top prospect.
Zaidi called Bart earlier in the day Wednesday to check in and see how he was handling life at the alternate camp. When he called back later with manager Gabe Kapler and general manager Scott Harris, Zaidi did not immediately reveal that the conversation was to give Bart the long-awaited promotion.
"He was probably thinking, 'I have to have another 20-minute conversation with this guy?'" Zaidi said Thursday, laughing.
That second conversation changed Bart's life, bringing him to the big leagues, likely for good. Zaidi said Bart will be the everyday catcher after checking every box at the alternate site. He has drawn rave reviews for his game-calling and pitch-framing, and in recent weeks he made notable strides against right-handed pitchers.
That, Zaidi said, explains part of the "why now" of all this.
"The timing of this was always going to be the type of situation where we just kind of continued to gather information and get to a consensus as a group," Zaidi said. "(That's) between people in Sacramento that were watching him every day and our group in the front office thinking through how he might fit, and our past experiences with young players, although he obviously is in pretty rare air in terms of his status."
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Bart was the second overall pick in 2018 and is the best Giants prospect to reach the big leagues since Buster Posey, a man he may one day replace. For now, the Giants are looking forward to the two working together in 2021, which is part of the reason Bart did work at first base in Sacramento.
For the next five weeks, though, he is purely a catcher and one who will bust up Kapler's platoon behind the plate. Bart will start against left-hander Jose Suarez on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Angels and should be a fixture against southpaws. But he also will see plenty of right-handers. The Giants did not immediately announce a corresponding roster move regarding Tyler Heineman or Chadwick Tromp.
"From an offensive standpoint, that was probably one of the things we were looking for most in Sacramento, the consistency and quality of at-bats against right-handed pitching," Zaidi said.
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Bart crushed lefties at two levels last year, but he also hit 10 homers against righties. In all, he reached the big leagues having played just 130 big league games, which was a concern for the front office when Bart was tearing up a July camp. Bart twice missed time last season with hand injuries.
"We came into the year with a strong sense that his development wasn't complete, and that was through no fault of his own," Zaidi said. "Obviously the unfortunate injury last year limited his ability to work through the system."
That was communicated to Bart early on, and the Giants maintained throughout July -- even after Posey opted out -- that Bart wasn't an option for opening day. Zaidi said Bart handled it "incredibly well," knowing that promises had been made on the other end.
"We were going to keep an open mind to his progress and calling him up this year if his progress was good and we thought the timing was right," Zaidi said. "That's where we are today."
Farhan Zaidi explains why now was Joey Bart's time to join Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area