After draft, Joey Bart looks back at Tech, ahead to Giants

Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart at the plate Feb. 17, 2017 at home against BYU. (Photo by Georgia Tech Athletics/Danny Karnik)

Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart at the plate Feb. 17, 2017 at home against BYU. (Photo by Georgia Tech Athletics/Danny Karnik)

Joey Bart learned his future employer’s identity only about 30 seconds before the rest of the world. Monday night at the start of the Major League Baseball draft, the Georgia Tech catcher received a text from adviser Victor Menocal (himself a former Tech player) that the San Francisco Giants were going to take him with the second overall selection.

“I had no idea,” Bart said Tuesday.

But he was quite OK with it.

“(Being picked first overall) would have been cool, but San Francisco is where I wanted to be all along,” Bart said. “It worked out great.”

Bart chose to come to Tech after he was drafted in the 27th round (out of 40) in the 2015 draft out of Buford High. He said he had some discussions with teams about possibly taking him in the first five rounds, but they didn’t interest him.

“I had always wanted to sign and play professional baseball, but circumstances weren’t right, so coming to Georgia Tech was a great option, and it worked out great,” Bart said. “It’s been the best three years of my life.”

It proved an all-time career at Tech. He was a freshman All-American. Last year, he was second-team All-ACC. As a junior, he was named the ACC player of the year and the defensive player of the year. On Monday, the same day that he was drafted, he was named a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the nation’s top catcher. He’s also a semifinalist for two national player of the year awards.

“I’ve learned a lot about catching,” Bart said. “I’ve learned a lot about how to catch the ball, the set-up and the things on the mental side of catching, like pitch calling and so forth. But also as a hitter, I’ve grown and I’ve learned about how to hit for power and not just average.”

Among catchers nationally, Bart ranks fourth in home runs per game (.28), fifth in batting average (.359) and third in slugging percentage (.632).

“(He’s) gifted defensively, had a big year with the bat and led the ACC in hitting, second in slugging, just had a big year on both sides of the ball,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters in San Francisco. “You look at him, he’s a man. Good-sized kid that really has developed his game and is playing well on both sides.”

Bart said Tuesday that he had not yet spoken with the Giants about a contract or at what level he might start in the minor leagues. But negotiations could prove rather pleasant. The assigned value for the signing bonus for the second overall pick is $7.5 million.

“It feels great,” he said. “I’m glad to finally get started with my career and stuff. Georgia Tech was great. It was a great three years for me, but this is where I wanted to be and this is just a steppingstone of where I’m going.”