Joey Bart off to a hot start for Tech

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)

Georgia Tech sophomore catcher Joey Bart is off to a fast start this season with nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 19 games. Bart’s nine home runs are tied for first in the ACC and nationally. Last season, he had one home run in 157 at-bats. He’s on pace to break the school-record of 25 home runs in a season.

“Just seeing the ball up and trying to get the ball up in the air, trying to do damage on every swing,” Bart said about what led to the power surge this season.

The main reason for Bart’s success when it comes to hitting is his style of play at the plate.

“I’m an aggressive hitter,” Bart said. “I don’t walk a whole lot. I probably should a little more. I just try to capitalize on mistakes that people throw at me, and fortunately I have been able to.”

Coach Danny Hall credits the success Bart is having is to confidence and hard work.

“I think he’s worked very hard at the skill part of hitting,” Hall said. “But I think he’s just playing with a lot more confidence. He’s a year older. He’s got a lot more confidence in himself and in his ability. He’s put all the time in, whether it’s during practice, before practice or after practice. He’s worked very hard.”

Bart’s play this season has been outstanding. He was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list for top catcher and named the national player of the week from Feb. 27-March 5. He ranks second in the conference in slugging percentage (.778), second in the conference for total bases (63) and first nationally for home runs per game (.47).

Hitting coach Bryan Prince had a lot to say about Bart’s play this season.

“It’s tremendous, not only offensively, but how he handles himself behind the plate, the way he handles the pitching staff, the way he goes about his business and what he’s doing in the weight room,” Prince said.

“Just an all-around example of working hard behind the scenes when no one’s looking in the cages, on the machines receiving and hitting baseballs and our early work with us. And it’s good to see that leadership and hard work paying off up to this point.”

Not only has Bart done well at the plate, but as a catcher he also is doing well behind the plate, according to Hall.

“I think he’s gotten off to a great start,” Hall said. “I think anytime you have a catcher, you got a first responsibility of managing your pitching. He’s done a really good job and taken on that leadership of that pitching staff.”

The pitching has done well with Bart’s leadership. Xzavion Curry leads the team with 27 strikeouts, and Jared Datoc is right behind him with 21. Jay Shadday leads the team in opponents’ batting average (.170), with Jonathan Hughes right behind him (.206). Bart thanks his pitchers for his success as a catcher.

“We’ve just had some younger guys step up and it’s huge,” Bart said. “I just try and feed them confidence.”

Even with all the success to this point, Bart still thinks there is more to achieve.

“We’ve only played 20 games maybe, so there’s still a full season left a lot can happen,” Bart said. “I’m just trying my hardest and giving it my all every day. I can always do better. That’s just how I am and how I expect myself to be.”