What's next for Giants' Joey Bart after tough demotion to minors

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What's next for Giants' Bart after demotion to minors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- The next step for Joey Bart is to catch a breather. The Giants want him to take a step back and mentally reset after a rough two-month stretch at the big level, and then it's back to work.

Bart's demotion to Triple-A after Tuesday night's game was not a surprise, not when he was striking out in nearly half of his plate appearances, but it was very notable, not just for the Giants but for one of their best prospects. This is a step back for Bart and for the Giants, who hoped that he could take over for Buster Posey this season but instead will move forward for now with Curt Casali and Austin Wynns.

The Giants had hoped that Bart could make the proper adjustments and come out of his slump, but he had just two hits in his last 25 at-bats at the time of the move, with 15 strikeouts. As you might expect from a young player, Giants coaches saw Bart starting to press. It was time for a reset.

"It doesn't matter how tough you are if you're fighting to survive every single day, day in and day out, and you're trying to establish yourself as a Major League player. It's going to take its toll," manager Gabe Kapler said. "That's not to say that he's not mentally tough enough to handle it. He is. A lot of Major Leaguers struggle to find their stride immediately. It takes some time. We're going to hang in there and be patient with Joey and support him through this."

The Giants had been working with Bart on swing adjustments and that will ramp up back in Triple-A, where there is not the pressure of trying to help a pitching staff take down big league hitters, knowing that every game could matter in the playoff race. Kapler said the hitting coaches want Bart to work on having more of a gather with his front side as he swings. They would like to see his hips and shoulders be more even.

"The number one message (to him was) that he has some adjustments that he needs to make," Kapler said. "In the conversations with him he was incredibly accountable. He's grown a lot. The professionalism is really coming out of him, even in these conversations. He's very honest, even vulnerable to some degree. I think he certainly gets it and knows that he has some mechanical adjustments to make, and we're going to get right to work with that."

While Bart's struggles are notable for the Giants, they are not at all foreign this season in MLB. Catcher Adley Rutschman, the game's No. 1 prospect coming into the season, has a .430 OPS through his first 14 games for the Baltimore Orioles. Kansas City's Bobby Witt Jr., a top three prospect, has a .677 OPS. Other top prospects, like Seattle's Jarred Kelenic and San Diego's C.J. Abrams, have also been sent back to the minors.

It's all a reminder that the path to big league success is not always a straight one, and Kapler said he's confident in Bart's future.

"Obviously we still believe in Joey and think he can be a frontline Major League catcher for us," he said.

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Bart is just 25, which is on the older end for a top prospect these days, but young for a big league catcher. He now will head back to a league he played in all of last season, and it's unclear when he'll be back.

Wynns has big league experience and will team with Casali for now. Asked how long Bart would be down in Triple-A, Kapler pointed out that sometimes it's best for everyone involved to just say "we don't know." They will let Bart make adjustments and hope the production and confidence come back.

"We're going to do our best and keep looking for ways and trying things, both mechanical and on the approach and planning side to help him be the catcher and Major Leaguer that we all know he can be," Kapler said.

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