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Giants Prospect Primer: Bart runs express

Catcher climbs system; Black, Beede, Shaw knock on MLB door
Joey Bart notched a .952 OPS in 51 games across two levels of his pro debut in 2018. (James Snook/Spokane Indians)
March 28, 2019

Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2019 season approaching, takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization.Full-season debutant: Joey Bart, CAfter

Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2019 season approaching, takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization.
Full-season debutant: Joey Bart, C
After being selected No. 2 overall in the 2018 Draft, Bart managed to live up to the hype for the most part. The 22-year-old advanced from the Rookie level to Class A Short Season Salem-Keizer after six games and quickly got adjusted. While Bart ran into some mini slumps, he never went more than two games without a knock. In total,'s No. 22 overall prospect hit .294/.264/.588 in 51 games. Bart's 13 homers and 39 RBIs with the Volcanoes were both among the top 5 leaders in the Northwest League.
"Joey's shown great leadership behind the plate. He obviously showed his plus raw power there in the Northwest League, but also showed how advanced he is as a defensive catcher and a leader behind the plate," said Kyle Haines, the Giants' director of player development. "He did a fantastic job leading the pitching staff there. Really saw a guy that came out very polished out of college, but we also saw him grow throughout the summer as he started facing his first pro competition. He went through some ups and downs, but really just had a special summer that first year."

Behind the plate, Bart threw out 16 would-be basestealers in 41 attempts (39 percent) while registering six passed balls and five errors across the two levels. Haines said the next big step for the Georgia Tech product is game strategy, both as a catcher with the pitching staff and as a hitter.
Bart got an extended look this spring at big league camp, going 7-for-20 (.350) with a homer and seven RBIs in 15 games. Before being sent down on March 22, the Georgia native got to catch Madison Bumgarner and pick Buster Posey's brain. Bart is expected to skip Class A and go straight to Class A Advanced San Jose to start 2018.
Loudest tool: Ray Black, RHP
Black's fastball is the stuff of legends. And with injuries keeping him to 153 innings since being drafted in 2011, it's an elusive legend at that.
"He's a guy that can put even Major Leaguers in awe with the big fastball and the top-of-the-scale breaking ball as well. To see one is unbelievable, and he's got both," Haines said. "Every time he's on the mound, you don't want to take your eyes off it because you're going to see things you've never seen before and you very rarely may ever see again."

Like only a couple other Minor Leaguers, Black's fastball grades out as a perfect 80 on the 20-80 scale. With an impressive spin rate, the 28-year-old reliever has touched 104 mph and can sit around 100 while recording a 16.7 K/9 rate in 35 2/3 innings across Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento in 2018. With that overpowering fastball and 40-grade control, Black was also tagged with a 3.0 BB/9 rate.
After having Tommy John surgery in high school, the University of Pittsburgh product battled shoulder, lat, back and elbow injuries. And on July 8, 2018, he finally made his Major League debut, notching a 6.17 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 10 walks in 23 1/3 innings across 26 appearances.
"It's just now [about] taking his plus stuff and putting it in game strategy and keeping it in the strike zone, and just doing a real good job of taking care of his body and making sure he's on the field and able to stay healthy," Haines said. "Those are the big keys for Ray. He learned a lot last year, and now I think he's excited to put it back to use this year and be the dominant guy he's capable of."
Major League-ready: Chris Shaw, LF
Shaw could be one of the best power hitters on the Giants this year. For the second straight season, the club's No. 11 prospect drilled 24 homers in the Minors, then added his first big league shot. Meanwhile in San Francisco, no batter left the yard more than 16 times. But of course with great power can come a great many strikeouts -- 116 in 101 Pacific Coast League games.
"Even in the PCL, he's capable of 30-40 homers in that league, and I think he tried to hit 40 homers on one swing," Haines said. "So for him, he just needs to get back to the guy that he was in the Eastern League the year before, where he controlled the strike zone and he was a hitter with power. I think he tried too much to be just a power hitter last year. He knows that."
Although his homer total remained the same, Shaw's OPS slid from .871 in 2017 to .813 in 2018. The left-handed hitter was striking out more and walking less, but on Aug. 31 the Giants came calling, and Shaw made his Major League debut. Following his first taste of The Show, the 2015 first-rounder had an improved showing in the Cactus League this spring, striking out just six times in 23 at-bats while leaving the yard twice.
"No.1 priority for him should just be swinging at quality pitches and having that game strategy to be able to go up there and take what's given to him and not try to force something that's not there and basically just be an all-or-nothing hitter," Haines said. "He's a better hitter than that."
Breakout prospect: Ryan Howard, SS
When people first hear Ryan Howard, they typically either think of a former Phillies star or a character on "The Office." But there's another Ryan Howard who could be grabbing some spotlight. The Giants' versatile No. 28 prospect has steadily climbed the system over the past three seasons while improving at each stop.

"He's really taken a lot to our teachings the last couple seasons. And each year he seems to increase his walk rate and decrease his strikeout rate, which is very hard to find in anyone," Haines said. "He hits for average, he hits doubles and he'll hit you a home run here and there. He can play multiple positions. So it'd be nice to see him tie it all together and see him become that complete player."
In 2018, Howard reached career highs of 32 doubles, four triples, 50 RBIs and nine stolen bases while striking out 55 times in 117 games with Richmond. Primarily a shortstop, the University of Missouri product spent time at second and third in the Minors last year as well as at big league camp this year. Whether it's with Richmond, Sacramento or even beyond, Howard is in a great position to turn heads in 2019.
At the crossroads: Tyler Beede, RHP
Like Black, Beede's had a long road since the Draft. After being selected 14th overall in 2014, the 25-year-old struggled with injuries and inconsistency before making his Major League debut last April. Beede went 4-9 with a 7.05 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 56 walks in 74 innings when healthy for Sacramento last year. And it was much of the same in his two starts with San Francisco.
But this spring, Haines has seen a different Beede. The Vanderbilt product worked on his arm action this offseason, which is already leading to more strikes. Beede also shelved his cutter, two-seamer and slider to focus on his three best pitches - fastball, curveball and changeup.
"You feel this sense like he's a new guy and he's evolved and developed as a player that we all envisioned when we see Tyler's talent and his capabilities," Haines said. "The confidence seems to be back in himself. He seems determined. He got humbled a lot last year, and now he's got that big league debut off his back, he got it out of the way last year. And he seems to be driven internally to a level that I've never seen out him, which is very exciting."

More to keep an eye on: At 18, Heliot Ramos had a tough time in the South Atlantic League last year. But the No. 91 overall prospect should be able to settle in this season at the hitter-friendly California League. ... Like Beede, fellow 2014 Draft pick Logan Webb is starting to put it all together. The right-hander should continue the momentum he picked up last season after advancing to Double-A. ... In just his first full season, southpaw John Gavin led the organization with 171 strikeouts and a 2.87 ERA, so fans should get excited for when he really gets comfortable.

2019 Organization predictions

Most home runs in the system: Bart
Most stolen bases:Bryce Johnson
Most strikeouts: Gavin
Current prospect to get most Major League playing time: Shaun Anderson
Non-Top-100 Prospect to end 2019 in the Top 100: Webb

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.